Stronger Together: Why Collaboration is Critical to Advancing Alzheimer’s Research


Alzheimer’s is a daunting disease and presents unique challenges to the scientific community. What makes Alzheimer’s such a formidable foe is the fact that we don’t just need therapies to treat the disease, we also need better ways to detect it that includes technology that will help us spot it sooner. We need new tools to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of drugs that treat early stages of the disease, and we need new methods to deliver treatments once we have them.

And we need all that yesterday.

Alzheimer’s kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer, combined. Our lack of progress against the disease stands in stark contrast to the incredible advances science and medicine are making in other areas. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, between 2000 and 2017, deaths from heart disease decreased 9 percent while deaths from Alzheimer’s increased 145 percent.1

Nearly everyone has a connection to the disease, so these sobering statistics have highly personal meaning. For me, the connection is my uncle. One of our few relatives in this country, his family lived in the house next to mine and he was an important presence in my early years. He’s now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, and it’s been incredibly difficult to watch his deterioration and observe the toll the disease is taking on my aunt and cousins.

Beyond my personal connection, as a leader in the only global pharmaceutical company solely focused on the brain, I am passionate about accelerating progress in Alzheimer’s. With Lundbeck’s legacy in neuroscience research and our commitment to remain in this space – despite the challenges and even as other pharmaceutical companies exit Alzheimer’s – we are positioned to play a leading role in the fight against the disease.

But we understand that we can’t do it alone. We collaborate with the best minds in brain science to advance innovation. Partnership is deeply embedded in our culture and an integral component of our corporate strategy. We believe it’s important not only to conduct our own research, but also to leverage our extensive knowledge of innovation that takes place outside of Lundbeck. In Alzheimer’s, we partner with a variety of academic institutions, government agencies, biotech innovators, patient groups and other pharmaceutical companies. 

For example, we are part of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a global consortium of universities, medical centers and industry researchers collaborating to share data and develop standardized techniques for identifying progression of the disease. We also are collaborating with research partners to explore the link between the immune system, neuroinflammation and brain disorders.  

We are proud to be involved in a groundbreaking cross-sector collaboration aimed at identifying and prioritizing the needs and preferences of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Disease Patient and Caregiver Engagement Roadmap (AD PACE) initiative will bring the science of patient input into the forefront of Alzheimer’s disease drug development, with the goal of more fully integrating the patient and caregiver voice into clinical trial design, drug development, regulatory review, and coverage and payment determinations.

Recently, we announced that we will play a lead role in a drug discovery consortium focused on identifying and validating novel drug targets for unmet therapeutic needs for psychiatric symptoms affecting people with mental health conditions and dementia, including Alzheimer’s. The consortium will enable collaboration between academia, industry, charities and government-funded organizations to develop and deliver a portfolio of innovative collaborative projects to accelerate disease research.

We also work in commercial partnerships to speed development and delivery of treatments that could restore brain health. Our most advanced clinical trial is for a compound that may address agitation in Alzheimer’s disease. This work is a part of our commercial alliance with Japanese pharmaceutical company Otsuka to advance therapies to treat brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s.

These are just a few of the partnerships we are engaged in as part of our 360-degree Alzheimer’s strategy. Lundbeck is built on a 70-year legacy of developing and delivering therapies that restore brain health; we are proud to be the only global company focused on the brain and grateful to the many partners who are joining us in the battle against Alzheimer’s. We are bringing all our experience, expertise and passion to the fight because together with our partners, we are stronger.

Sources
[1] 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s Association. Last accessed 6/26/19.
https://www.alz.org/media/Documents/alzheimers-facts-and-figures-infographic-2019.pdf

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