Alzheimer's research: The setup and setbacks

Last Updated by Beckstrom, Maja on
Dateline:



1906

German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer describes "plaques and tangles" in the brain of a middle-aged woman with dementia.





1976

April: A journal editorial by neurologist Robert Katzman argues that most senility in older adults is Alzheimer's disease, until then diagnosed only in people under age 65.


May: Robert Butler, director of the new National Institute on Aging, promotes the expanded definition of Alzheimer's disease.





1979

The Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association is created by Butler and others to advocate for federal research dollars.





1984

The protein in Alzheimer's brain plaques is isolated and named amyloid beta.





1985

Zaven Khachaturian at the NIA proposes counting plaques at autopsy to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.





1986

The protein in Alzheimer's brain tangles is identified as tau.





1987

Four labs identify the bigger protein that produces amyloid beta.





1991

Amyloid hypothesis is proposed: amyloid beta plaque triggers Alzheimer's disease.





1991

The first mutation causing early-onset Alzheimer's disease is located on a gene involved in producing amyloid beta.





1995

Researchers put an Alzheimer's genetic mutation in mice, creating important but imperfect models of the disease.





1997

FDA approves Aricept, the first cholinesterase inhibitor drug for Alzheimer's disease. These drugs don't slow underlying mental decline.





1999

Elan pharmaceutical company's amyloid beta vaccine clears brain plaque in mice.





2000

Labs identify enzymes that cut amyloid beta from the bigger protein. Pharmaceutical companies start developing pills to block them.





2002

Amyloid beta vaccine abandoned when it causes brain swelling in people.





2003

Studies of anti-inflammatory drugs show no effect or halt early over heart concerns.





2004

Plaque is detected for the first time in living people, confirmed in first amyloid beta PET scan study. Scans later show plaque doesn't correlate with cognitive decline.





2005

Pharmaceutical companies start testing amyloid antibodies in people with Alzheimer's.





2007

The first drug to target amyloid beta, tramiprosate, performs no better than placebo in slowing mental decline.





2008

The amyloid vaccine cleared plaque, but didn't help cognition, according to first published brain autopsies of participants.





2010

Eli Lilly's enzyme inhibitor pill is discontinued when it lowers amyloid beta but causes skin cancer and accelerates cognitive decline.





2012

July: Amyloid antibody bapineuzumab fails to slow Alzheimer's decline, a blow to Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.


August: Eli Lilly's amyloid antibody solanezumab fails to slow Alzheimer's, but a possible effect in people with mild symptoms convinces the company to launch another big study.





2013

Eli Lilly halts its study of another enzyme inhibitor pill due to abnormal liver tests. Roche stops a study of a similar drug without explanation.





2014

People with no cognitive problems start taking anti-amyloid drugs in studies funded jointly by government and pharmaceutical companies to see if striking earlier prevents symptoms.





2015

Hype surrounds initial results from a small study of Biogen's amyloid antibody aducanumab.





2016

July: First drug to target the tangle protein tau fails in a clinical trial.


November: Eli Lilly's second big trial of solanezumab in people with mild Alzheimer's symptoms fails.





2017

Merck stops a study of its enzyme inhibitor pill after it lowers amyloid beta but doesn't help cognition. A second study of the same drug is stopped a year later for making cognition worse.





2018

January: Pfizer ends internal research for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's drugs and slashes 3000 positions in its neuroscience program.


April: A new definition of Alzheimer's disease is based only on brain changes, primarily amyloid plaque. People no longer need to have thinking or memory problems to have Alzheimer's.





2019

January: Roche stops study of its anti-amyloid drug in people with early Alzheimer's.


March: Biogen pulls plug on aducanumab, the fourth failure of a big amyloid antibody study.


September: Safety concerns prompt Biogen and Eisai to halt a study of its enzyme inhibitor pill designed to lower amyloid beta, the last in a string of similar studies stopped early.





2020

Results expected from the study of anti-amyloid drugs in people who have mutations for early-onset Alzheimer's disease.




PBS
NPR
PBS Kids
VIA Passport

Connect

rectangle_app.png

NPR Headlines

PG&E Announces $13.5 Billion Settlement Of Claims Linked To California Wildfires

The utility hopes the settlement will help it emerge from bankruptcy proceedings by the end of the year. When it...

Tony And Emmy Award Winning Actor Ron Liebman Dies At 82

Liebman, who played a wide range of roles in films, the stage and television, is perhaps most popularly known for...

Los Angeles Jury Finds No Defamation In Elon Musk's 'Pedo Guy' Tweet

The Tesla CEO was embroiled in a Twitter spat with one of the rescuers of 12 boys and their soccer coach in Thailand...

VIA_Page_Turners_Logo.jpg

healthybites_sidebar2.png

ArtScene Calendar