Basel, 21 September 2011
First website focusing on early-stage Alzheimer's disease launches on World Alzheimer's Day
Site provides information and resources exploring early diagnosis of the disease
Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) today announced the launch of a new website, www.earlysymptomsalzheimers.com, designed to provide healthcare professionals, patients and caregivers with information about early-stage (prodromal) Alzheimer’s disease. The website is being launched to mark World Alzheimer’s Day.
This comprehensive site was created to highlight the latest, pioneering work exploring the value of earlier diagnosis and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research suggests that measurable Alzheimer’s disease symptoms can occur 12 years before clinical diagnosis with significant worsening in the last 3 years1. Therefore, greater insights into the length of this early, “silent” stage of Alzheimer’s disease could provide a window of opportunity for healthcare professionals to potentially change the course of the disease through therapeutic intervention before irreparable damage has occurred.
"In recent years our understanding of the very early phases of Alzheimer's disease has improved significantly and more advanced diagnostic tools have become available to researchers in this field. For this reason we started clinical trials that are looking at diagnosis and treatment of this disease much earlier, before significant damage to the brain has occurred,” said Dr. Luca Santarelli, Global Head of the Neuroscience Discovery and Translational Area at Roche. “We funded the EarlySymptomsAlzheimers site to help patients and medical professionals better understand this new approach. We hope that this will positively impact the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in the future.”
Roche has a strong commitment to find new, disease-modifying approaches in Alzheimer’s. The Roche portfolio currently has 4 novel compounds in development for Alzheimer’s disease, including small molecules and monoclonal antibodies, with 1 project in phase I and 3 in phase II.
One of the most common and identifiable symptoms of prodromal Alzheimer’s disease is significant memory loss. While some memory loss is a normal part of the aging process, significant loss can indicate a risk of Alzheimer’s disease2. Individuals experiencing significant memory loss should consult a medical professional, who can assess and monitor cognitive health through a series of tests.
If symptoms progress, Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed through methods such as cognitive tests and brain imaging. Researchers are also investigating the potential of specific biomarkers to help definitively diagnose the disease.
“We believe the opportunity to make a greater difference in patients’ lives is in early diagnosis and treatment. What’s important is that not only are we treating early but we’re using a new biomarker – or what we believe is a molecular signal of early Alzheimer’s,” said Dr Fraser Inglis, Director, Glasgow Memory Clinic Ltd. “It is thought that disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s will be more effective if given well before people show any symptoms.”
This comprehensive site is sponsored by Roche and explores everything from diagnosis to treatment and contains practical, fully referenced information throughout.
About prodromal Alzheimer’s disease
Prodromal Alzheimer’s disease is a condition in which a person’s memory loss is worse than can be expected by the normal aging process alone, even though their ability to get on with daily activities is not affected to such an extent that they would be diagnosed with dementia.
Scientists around the world have been working for decades on how best to treat Alzheimer’s. It’s fair to say that so far the results have been limited. Disease-modifying drugs – those that could halt or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s - are a major goal of new treatments. However so far, no such treatment is available. Today’s treatments target some symptoms of the disease, with modest and temporary effects. They do not affect the underlying cause of the disease.
One of the main theories is the so-called amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s: It assumes that a protein called amyloid accumulates in the brain, forming plaques, and triggers a cascade of events that results in the malfunction and death of brain cells. Another concept is that the best time to treat Alzheimer’s is very early in the course of the disease BEFORE a lot of damage has occurred, i.e. BEFORE dementia sets in .3
In April 2011, new international guidelines on how to diagnose Alzheimer’s were published for the first time in decades4. These guidelines specifically address how to diagnose Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages. They mark a major change in how experts think about and study Alzheimer’s, including the need to incorporate biomarker tests. Biomarkers are the key to diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche’s personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2010, Roche had over 80,000 employees worldwide and invested over 9 billion Swiss francs in R&D. The Group posted sales of 47.5 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information: www.roche.com.
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1) Amieva H, Le Goff M, Millet X, Orgogozo JM, Pérès K, Barberger-Gateau P, et al.; Annals of Neurology 2008; 64 (5); 492-498
3) 2010 Aisen et al Report of the task force on designing clinical trials in early (predementia) AD. Neurology 76; 280-286
4) US National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging http://www.nia.nih.gov/NewsAndEvents/PressReleases/PR20110419guidelines.htm