Update: Chalk up another epic fail for Alzheimer’s disease experiments on animals.
At a recent scientific conference, not one but three pharmaceutical companies announced the stunning failures of experimental Alzheimer’s drugs that had tested successfully in mice—who must be genetically engineered to develop a pseudo-Alzheimer’s condition. The compounds—known as BACE inhibitors—actually appeared to hurt patients by worsening their cognitive abilities and causing brain shrinkage.
Here’s how the journal Nature describes this increasingly long list of treatment disappointments: “Drug companies have spent billions of dollars searching for therapies to reverse or significantly slow Alzheimer’s disease, to no avail.”
Alzheimer’s patients deserve so much better than this. As one molecular biologist put it, “The biggest mistake you can make is to think you can ever have a mouse with Alzheimer’s disease.”
Experimenters must adopt superior, non-animal research methods that are actually relevant to human physiology. For example, a just-published “landmark” study using cells from human brains has provided new insight into how Alzheimer’s develops and may lead to effective treatments.
Originally posted on April 3, 2017:
After a string of failures, experimenters are finally realizing that the way they’ve been trying to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s disease has gotten them nowhere.
Gee, that only took decades of wasted time and money, more than 100 failed drugs, and an untold number of animals’ lives.
For years, experimenters have tormented mice, dogs, and other animals in an effort to come up with drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Trouble is, those animals don’t get Alzheimer’s. So experimenters manipulate an animal’s genome to force the buildup of amyloid plaques similar to those in the brains of people with the disease. The result: Animals seem to have relief from symptoms that look like Alzheimer’s—but aren’t.
In the meantime, human patients continue to suffer.
The failure rate in humans for new Alzheimer’s drugs now stands at a staggering 99.6 percent. You can include Eli Lilly’s much-hyped solanezumab among those duds. That drug had been tested successfully in mice and monkeys. But it turned out to be an abject failure in clinical trials.
Now that experimenters admit that they’ve made just about zero progress, it’s time they took their heads out of the sand and rejected the use of animal “models” that can never replicate human forms of dementia.
Instead, they should adopt superior, non-animal research methods that are actually relevant to human physiology.
What You Can Do
Support Alzheimer’s charities that actually help people and don’t test on animals.
And urge your congressional representatives to demand that the National Institutes of Health stop wasting our tax dollars funding pointless animal experiments and instead focus on modern, non-animal methods of research.