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World Leaders in Alzheimer’s Innovation to Discuss Progress, Collaboration at DIA Annual Meeting

Horsham, Pa. (PRWEB) June 17, 2013

Without treatment, experts say, the number of Alzheimer’s disease patients worldwide is expected to almost double by 2025 to 34 million people—a startling realization that’s driving global forces to join together to advance research for the debilitating disease before it’s too late.

A number of innovative initiatives hold hope for a promising future in understanding Alzheimer’s, including new ways to implement genome sequencing in research, focus on much-needed support for caregivers and look for novel methods to improve clinical trials. These breakthrough efforts will be discussed on June 26 by U.S. leaders in Alzheimer’s research and regulation in three Advancing Alzheimer’s Innovation sessions at the DIA 2013 49th Annual Meeting at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

Scientists are now focusing on the interaction of gender, genetic risk factors and biological markers of the disease. Harvard Medical School professors Dr. Rudy Tanzi, director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit of the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease and recently profiled by The Boston Globe and cited as a “rock star of science” by GQ, and Dr. Reisa Sperling, director of the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will join a panel of experts discussing collaboration to support research at Advancing Alzheimer’s Innovation: A Call to Action.

Tanzi, leader of the Whole Genome Sequencing Project, aims to propel research to identify the genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease—a vital step in discovering a therapy.

“We are taking advantage of cutting-edge technology to discover exactly how our genes determine susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease,” Tanzi said. “This panel will discuss how this key knowledge will pioneer novel drug discovery efforts and pave the future of Alzheimer’s research.”

Sperling is the principal investigator for the first-ever clinical trial aimed at older people who are at genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but who have yet to show symptoms. Sperling will discuss the new era of prevention trials and the importance of studying the role gender may play in developing the disease. The three-year-long clinical trial, launching in November, will be made up of 1,000 older individuals and is funded jointly by the National Institutes of Health and Eli Lilly.

“It is critical to understand the interaction of risk factors and biological markers of disease pathology as we move forward with the trial,” Sperling said.

Adding to the discussion about innovative approaches to treating Alzheimer’s, Dr. Nicholas Kozauer, clinical lead for the Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Neurology Products, will address the need for a regulatory framework for pre-dementia clinical trials. In March, Kozauer published a compelling piece in the New England Journal of Medicine on the need for innovative approaches in trial design and selection as the drug-development community turns its sights on the early stages of the disease.

The session is chaired by Meryl Comer, president of the Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative, which just launched a $100,000 Global NeuroDiscovery Challenge to look at gender-based differences in Alzheimer’s. George Vradenburg, chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, will discuss plans to use the G-8 to develop an international approach to address Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Below are the two other June 26 sessions focused on Alzheimer’s treatment and care:

Advancing Alzheimer’s Innovation: Patient Advocacy, Caregiver Support and Health Care System Impact at 1:45 p.m.

New initiatives are responding to the growing stress on caregivers and the need to help individuals remain independent for as long as possible. Robert Feeney, senior director of evidence-based reimbursement for Sanofi, will lead a panel of experts discussing the initiatives that prepare society for the proper care of Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers. The forum will address best practices in delivery of care, whether in institutions or at home.

Advancing Alzheimer’s Innovation: Clinical Development Successes and Challenges at 4 p.m.

Only about 8 percent of drugs that treat diseases—including Alzheimer’s—affecting the central nervous system enter clinical trials and the U.S. market. Innovative approaches to clinical design are needed to advance the success rate of drugs that treat Alzheimer’s. Sperling, discussing the current landscape of Alzheimer’s clinical trials and lessons learned from past trials, will join executives from Eisai Inc., and Merck & Co., to address the challenges encountered in clinical development and recommendations in design to improve the success of clinical trials.

ABOUT DIA: DIA is a neutral, global, professional and member-driven association of nearly 18,000 professionals involved in the discovery, development and life cycle management of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and related health care products. Through our international educational offerings and myriad networking opportunities, DIA provides a global forum for knowledge exchange that fosters the innovation of products, technologies and services to improve health and well-being worldwide. Headquarters are in Horsham, Pa., USA, with offices in Basel, Switzerland; Tokyo, Japan; Mumbai, India; Beijing, China; Washington, D.C.; and Latin America. Visit our website at and follow DIA at: LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Pinterest.


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