This guest post is authored by Dan Skovronsky, Senior Vice President of Product and Clinical Development at Lilly.
For nearly 30 years, Lilly has worked to fight Alzheimer’s disease, and despite recent negative studies, has helped move the science forward in many important ways. The work we can do today was not remotely possible even ten years ago.
Today, we can see the fundamental disease causes with advanced brain imaging, and then follow patients over time to see if experimental medicines reduce those causes. The ability to do this has produced remarkable results.
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating condition with great unmet need. In 2015, dementia affected some 10.5 million people in Europe and this number is believe to 13.42 million people by 2030.
Thinking about what’s next in the field, I believe the science behind the disease has continued to evolve and the recently failed trials have provided us with lessons to apply to compounds in development. However, it will be important for our regulatory policies and healthcare systems to evolve at the same pace, in order to address the crisis and stay on course to meet the Alzheimer's community goal of effectively prevent Alzheimer’s Disease by 2025.
We need to encourage earlier diagnosis instead of waiting for significant cognitive and functional decline to occur. To effectively fight the disease, Alzheimer’s patients, their caregivers and doctors need more productive conversations sooner, with the goal to recognize and diagnose as early as possible.
We also need better access to testing and improvement in diagnostics to more effectively detect and monitor the disease. Currently, the more advanced diagnostics are not well understood or utilized by healthcare providers so it’s essential that we educate them on these new tools. The more people know about the importance of brain health and memory care, the more likely they are to take action.
I remain hopeful for the future of Alzheimer’s disease and I am truly motivated by the work we do here at Lilly because it will ultimately make life better for people around the world.