Principal investigator Randall Bateman, M.D.
Converging evidence suggests experimental Alzheimer's treatments may be most effective if given before the first outward signs of dementia appear. Researchers are now testing this hypothesis on people for whom an effective intervention holds special urgency: individuals with a 50/50 chance of inheriting a gene mutation that causes Alzheimer's disease by middle age. Thanks to generous donor support, the Alzheimer's Association provided funding that launched a groundbreaking study of two anti-amyloid medications three years before federal dollars became available.
"Alzheimer's disease onset is predictable for this population, so we should be able to tell relatively quickly whether the drugs are having an impact," says Dr. Randall Bateman, who leads the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network Trials Unit (DIAN-TU). His team is hopeful medications that work for people with younger-onset familial Alzheimer's will also work for people with the more common late-onset form because the disease appears to progress in a similar way no matter how it starts.
In 2016, thanks again to generous philanthropists, the Association awarded an additional grant of 4.3 million to enable DIAN-TU Next Generation (NexGen). This funding adds two new drug candidates to the two already being tested. It also supports the inclusion of new approaches to diagnosing Alzheimer's that would enable earlier and more accurate detection of the disease if proven to be effective: