On the brink of a new year, a note from Being Patient Founder and Editor-in-Chief Deborah Kan.
As I reflect on 2021, I will remember not only the changes that the COVID pandemic brought upon us, but also the progress we are making in understanding Alzheimer’s. Although we still don’t have a cure, I am encouraged by the fact that research is taking a much less myopic approach to dissecting a disease we haven’t been able to solve in over a century.
This year we saw the landscape of research expand more outside the historically favored target of beta-amyloid. More experimental drugs are targeting biomarkers like inflammation, tau, and even infectious pathogens. Researchers are exploring the potential of repurposing psychiatric drugs to target the disease’s behavioral symptoms.
This year also marked the FDA’s approval of Aduhelm, hailed as the first disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s. The regulatory path to approval was a rocky one to say the least, and we still don’t fully understand if clearing beta-amyloid plaque from the brain could prevent cognitive decline. But in a way, Aduhelm has paved the way for other “mab” drugs — monoclonal antibody therapies, also known as anti-amyloids — that employ our immune system to clean up beta-amyloid. Hopefully we will be able to determine efficacy of these drugs in 2022, as more clinical trials progress.
I am grateful to all in our community for sharing your thoughts and comments, and, always, for asking us smart questions. It’s becoming increasingly clear that, when we explain the research to you, some of you want to know more about research participation. I find it frustrating that so many people have asked us how to get into a specific trial when we write about it, yet we aren’t able to help or assist you along the way … but soon, we will!
Being Patient has some exciting initiatives coming up in 2022, including the launch of a clinical trials course curriculum — a crash course of sorts, to teach you more about the landscape of research and understand if participating in a trial is right for you. Our mission is to create a better resource for all of you, whether you or a loved one of yours is living with dementia, or whether you have genetic biomarkers and want to be part of the search for better treatments and for a cure.
As the daughter of a mother with Alzheimer’s and a geneticist father, I believe that finding a cure has to be a partnership between people and science. Independent journalism is our way of bridging that gap and giving you a trusted resource to make this journey a little easier.
With gratitude for your trust and with hope for the coming year,