Treatment Challenges and the Hope of Emerging Therapies in Early-Stage Alzheimer Disease
Experts offer an overview of best practices for managing early-stage Alzheimer disease as well as a look at the future.
Neurologists, and nurse practitioners and physician assistants specializing in neurology
Provide evidence-based treatment for patients with early-stage Alzheimer disease
Alzheimer disease (AD), the most common cause of dementia, is a degenerative brain disease with no cure. In the United States alone, an estimated 5.8 million people are living with AD. More than half of individuals living with AD and other dementias are not getting an accurate diagnosis and, when they do receive one, clinicians are not effectively communicating with patients and care partners regarding the illness and next steps. Additionally, prompt treatment initiation does not occur in a substantial number of newly diagnosed patients. This Academic Highlights addresses best practices for identifying patients with early-stage AD, discussing treatment goals and challenges with patients who have AD and their care partners, employing current medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to slow symptom progression, and staying informed about emerging therapies that offer new hope for disease modification.
From the Series: Diagnosis of Early-Stage Alzheimer Disease and How Emerging Treatments May Address Unmet Needs
To cite: Burke AD, Apostolova L. Treatment challenges and the hope of emerging therapies in early-stage Alzheimer disease. J Clin Psychiatry. 2021;82(4):BG20044AH4C.
To share: https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.BG20044AH4C
© Copyright 2021 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
Supported by an educational grant from Biogen.
After completing this educational activity, you should be able to:
- Provide evidence-based treatment for patients with early-stage Alzheimer disease
Release, Review, and Expiration Dates
This brief report activity was published in June 2021 and is eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ through August 31, 2021. The latest review of this material was June 2021.
Statement of Need and Purpose
Clinicians are not providing a diagnosis to over half of individuals who meet criteria for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias. When they do give a diagnosis, clinicians are often not effectively communicating with patients and care partners regarding the illness and next steps. Additionally, prompt treatment initiation does not occur in a substantial number of patients newly diagnosed with AD. Clinicians need education on early recognition of AD using a stepwise process that includes patient observation, informant report, use of assessment tools, and additional testing when appropriate. They also need guidance for sharing the diagnosis of AD along with education and next steps, including support services. Clinicians need awareness about addressing the shortcomings of current treatments with patients and families. Although current therapies are not disease modifying, emerging agents may offer new hope.
Disclosure of Off-Label Usage
Dr Burke has determined that, to the best of her knowledge, aducanumab* and gantenerumab are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Alzheimer disease.
*Note: On June 7, 2021, after publication of this activity, the FDA approved aducanumab for the treatment of mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer disease.
The faculty members agreed to provide a balanced and evidence-based presentation and discussed the topics and CME objectives during the planning sessions. The faculty’s submitted content was validated by CME Institute staff, and the activity was evaluated for accuracy, use of evidence, and fair balance by the Chair and a peer reviewer who is without conflict of interest.
This activity is derived from the teleconference series “Diagnosis of Early-Stage Alzheimer Disease and How Emerging Treatments May Address Unmet Needs,” which was held in August and October 2020 and supported by an educational grant from Biogen. The opinions expressed herein are those of the faculty and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the CME provider and publisher or the commercial supporter.
Anna D. Burke, MD
Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona
Liana Apostolova, MD, MSc
Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis
The faculty for this CME activity and the CME Institute staff were asked to complete a statement regarding all relevant personal and financial relationships between themselves or their spouse/partner and any commercial interest. The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) defines a commercial interest as any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. The ACCME defines relevant financial relationships as financial relationships in any amount occurring within the past 12 months that create a conflict of interest. The CME Institute has resolved any conflicts of interest that were identified. No member of the CME Institute staff reported any relevant personal financial relationships. Faculty financial disclosure is as follows:
Dr Burke has no personal affiliations or financial relationships with any commercial interest to disclose relative to the activity.
Dr Apostolova has received grant/research support from AVID, Life Molecular Imaging, and Roche; is a consultant and/or member of the speakers/advisory board for Biogen, Two Labs, and Lilly; is a member of the Data Safety and Monitoring Board for IQVIA; and her husband is a stock shareholder of Semiring.
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