In clinical research, Alzheimer’s has made a name for itself as one of the industry’s most vexing challenges. Perhaps nowhere else in the industry is there simultaneously such a strong mandate for new treatments and such daunting success rates as in Alzheimer’s research. It’s frustrating, sure – but the silver lining is that we’re in an age of unprecedented eClinical functionality that makes researchers better equipped than ever to meet these challenges head-on.
Let’s take a look at some of the hurdles associated with Alzheimer’s research, as well as why eClinical technology is an invaluable asset to the researchers who continue to fight for new treatments.
A number of factors contribute to the magnitude of Alzheimer’s challenges, both related to the mechanics of the disease and the societal importance of finding an effective new treatment.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s often take years – sometimes even more than a decade – to emerge. This means that by the time it’s diagnosed, it may have advanced too far for a treatment to be effective. Clinical trials may be better off with early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, but the challenge of identifying these individuals makes patient recruitment difficult.
A 2014 article in Scientific American notes that it is more difficult to deliver pharmaceutical compounds to the brain than to other organs, making the search for drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia especially challenging.
Not only are Alzheimer’s trials difficult – but they’re expensive and therefore high-stakes. And the need for more of them will only grow as demand for new treatments intensifies: The Alzheimer’s Association projects that by 2050, the number of people living with Alzheimer’s could balloon from 5 million to 16 million in the U.S. alone.
Fortunately, Alzheimer’s researchers have an ally in the powerful and modern eClinical tools currently at their disposal. The world needs new Alzheimer’s treatments, and by cutting costs and timelines, eClinical technology facilitates a greater output of clinical trials in order to find them:
These efficiencies also help to protect against the financial challenges of Alzheimer’s research. We would, of course, love to see a new Alzheimer’s drug approved by the FDA tomorrow. In reality, though, there’s likely to be more trial and error before the industry reaches its Alzheimer’s breakthrough, and eClinical technology enables researchers to optimize the time and money invested in their trials until that moment comes.
The search for new Alzheimer’s treatments represents one of the most urgent, yet challenging, mandates in clinical research today. It’s essential that researchers in this important field recognize, and utilize, all the tools available to them.