AD progresses in stages, with a long silent phase starting before its symptoms appear. Currently approved treatments help to alleviate some of the symptoms but there are no disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that modify the disease, reverse or slow down its effects. Disease-modifying therapies would allow patients to live an independent life for longer, and maintain their cognitive capabilities and personality, leaving them more time with their friends and family.
The research community has traversed numerous frustrating setbacks over the past few years, which explains the long wait for a disease-modifying treatment. However, the history of Alzheimer’s Disease is a story of perseverance, commitment and hope. The industry’s dedication to finding a cure can be evidenced by the continued unfaltering drug development pipeline. In early 2020, there were 136 trials investigating AD therapies which have the potential to significantly reduce the burden on affected people living with the disease, their carers, and healthcare systems across Europe .
You can find out more about individuals commitment to tackling Alzheimer’s disease here.
It is time for European healthcare systems to prepare for Alzheimer’s breakthroughs
No organisation can address the challenges related to Alzheimer’s disease in isolation. As we have highlighted in the paper "Taking Action Together to Ensure a Better Today and Tomorrow for People with Alzheimer’s Disease", patients can only benefit from advances in treatment if healthcare systems are appropriately equipped to enable patient access to innovation along the whole of the disease pathway.
We are at a turning point in our fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. Long-awaited new therapies are on the horizon. The introduction of upcoming disease modifying therapies would have the potential to change the lives of both patients and carers and to substantially reduce the societal and economic burden of the disease.
For people living with dementia, their carers, and society to benefit from these innovations, clinical practice will have to transform and adapt. Healthcare systems in Europe currently lack the capacity to detect early, diagnose and treat AD effectively, hindering the ability to rapidly move a disease modifying therapy (DMT) for AD from approval into widespread clinical use. This could leave a large number of patients without access to transformative care when a DMT reaches the market.
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 Alzheimer Europe, Cost of illness and burden of dementia in Europe – Prognosis to 2030, www.alzheimer-europe.org/Research/European-Collaboration-onDementia/Cost-of-dementia/Prognosis-to-2030
 Alzheimer Europe, Dementia in Europe, Yearbook 2019, https://www.alzheimer-europe.org/Publications/Dementia-in-Europe-Yearbooks
 Cummings et al. Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Development pipeline: 2020, Alzheimer’s Dement. 2020;6:e12050