Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) - The Novel Trend of Targeting Alzheimers Disease in Its Early Stages - Methodological Considerations

Author(s): C. Pater

Journal Name: Current Alzheimer Research

Volume 8 , Issue 7 , 2011

Become EABM
Become Reviewer
Call for Editor


While much uncertainty exists in the estimates of the global burden of Alzheimers disease and about the potential impact of various interventions, there is a widespread acceptance of the fact that the steady increase in the incidence and prevalence of the condition worldwide is becoming a massive public health problem as well as a huge economic burden for all healthcare systems and societies. These heavy demands are further compounded by the poor quality of life of the affected individuals, of their families and of their caregivers. The epidemic proportion of Alzheimers disease has triggered relentless attempts for development of treatment approaches during the past two decades by a multitude of pharmaceuticals and biotech companies. Commercial development of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitors has, until recently, virtually dominated the field and, although efficacy has been demonstrated for five different products, the longterm clinical results suggested that alternate approaches were warranted. Disease modifying strategies targeting the β- amyloid plaques (e.g., decreasing β-amyloid formation through β- and γ-secretase inhibition, diminishing β-amyloid aggregation through anti-aggregants or enhancement of β-amyloid clearance through active/passive immunization), targeting the neurofibrillary tangles through inhibition of tau protein hyperphosphorilation or, more recently, by increasing mitochondrial permeability, all these potential treatment modalities are facing major methodological challenges during the conduct of a myriad of clinical trials meant to bring the novel therapies to the market. Failure of more than 400 products tested in more than 800 clinical trials to date, with many of these failures occurring in late stage development (phase III) have triggered a paradigm shift toward targeting of the early stages of cognitive deficiencies (mild cognitive impairment- MCI) and a refinement of the investigative methodologies. The great heterogeneity of the disease entity itself (MCI) coupled with inadequate sensitivity, specificity and positive/negative predictive values of the many common diagnostic outcome scales, outcome measures, and of many of the currently used biomarkers expose the drug development professionals to the risk of methodological flaws rendering the products explored ineffective, while very expensive.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease, mild cognitive impairment, clinical trial methodology, outcome measures, cognitive scales, Chronic diseases, placebo

Rights & PermissionsPrintExport Cite as

Article Details

Year: 2011
Page: [798 - 807]
Pages: 10
DOI: 10.2174/156720511797633250
Price: $65

Article Metrics

PDF: 28