Marty Reiswig’s family is one of approximately 500 in the world with a genetic mutation that will make some in his family develop Alzheimer’s at a much younger age than those without the mutation, reports Elie Dolgin. In high-risk families, symptoms start showing for some as early as their mid-30s or late 20s. Early intervention is key.
“I was just sad,” Reiswig says. “I was really hopeful that it would be life-changing for us,” after an experimental Alzheimer’s drug failed in trials.
Traditionally, drug companies have targeted patients who already have memory loss and other signs of dementia., which has been a losing tactic, says Dolgin, with more than 99 percent of Alzheimer’s drugs failing in clinical trials to slow the relentless progression of the disease.
A new strategy of early intervention is now being tested in five large clinical trials that could cost from $500 million to $1 billion collectively. But success “in one or more of these trials matters not only because they may save the lives of the Reiswigs… they may also save our health care system,” Dolgin argues, because treating dementia is the most expensive disease to care for in the US.