Current progress in preventive and new therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer’s disease were presented by experts at EAN 2022. Topics discussed were modifiable risk factors, multidomain interventions, and the 143 agents in Phase 1, 2, and 3 clinical trials.
Can modifying risk factors prevent dementia?
Twelve modifiable risk factors have been identified for Alzheimer’s disease and it has been estimated that addressing them might prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease by 40%,1 said Professor Alina Solomon, Kuopio, Finland.
Addressing modifiable risk factors might prevent or delay the development of dementia by 40%1
These risk factors are lack of education in early life; hearing loss, brain injury, hypertension, over 21 units of alcohol/week, and obesity in midlife; and smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity, air pollution and diabetes in later life.1
However, despite the attractiveness and promise of multimodal risk factor interventions as a preventive strategy — and it makes sense to promote them — it is important to manage expectations, said Professor Robert Perneczky, Munich, Germany.
Multimodal interventions are promising but current evidence does not show they prevent dementia2
Based on the small amount of research currently available, a 2021 Cochrane review found two randomized controlled trials that provided high-certainty evidence on dementia incidence. These two studies showed no evidence that multidomain interventions prevent dementia, but there was a signal of improved cognitive function, which was strongest for those receiving cognitive training.2
Therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer’s disease
Mechanisms of action for agents being investigated for dementia are disease-modifying, cognitive enhancement, and improvement of neuropsychiatric manifestations3
Nearly 150 agents are in Phase 1, 2, and 3 trials for treatment of different aspects of dementia,3 said Professor Perneczky. Most of these agents (68%) in Phase 3 studies are disease-modifying compounds, but other mechanisms of action include agents to improve cognition and to treat neuropsychiatric symptoms.3
He commented that of the 21 disease-modifying compounds in Phase 3 studies, 29% are targeting amyloid. Targets for other agents are synaptic plasticity and neuroprotection, neuroinflammation, tau, metabolism, vasculature, neurotransmitters, and proteosis.3
Professor Perneczky highlighted the following factors to consider for therapeutic strategies:
The main targets for disease-modifying compounds are amyloid, tau and neuroinflammation3
- The roles of amyloid, tau, and synaptic function in dementia are not clear4
- Data from a genome-wide association study indicate that amyloid, tau, and neuroinflammation are probably the main relevant targets5
- The different forms of amyloid (monomers, oligomers, fibrils) to target need to be considered6
- Amyloid-related imaging abnormalities (ARIA) cause symptoms in approximately 25% of patients treated with a monoclonal antibody targeting amyloid and are more common in apolipoprotein ε4 carriers and with higher doses7
Our correspondent’s highlights from the symposium are meant as a fair representation of the scientific content presented. The views and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of Lundbeck.