Ivan Cheung, Chairman, Eisai Inc. and Global President, Neurology Business Group, Eisai Co., Ltd.
Harald Hampel, MD, PhD, Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, Neurology Business Group, Eisai Inc.
Anyone who has ever been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease (AD) knows the devastating nature of this neurodegenerative illness. AD is the most common cause of dementia, ranking among the top five leading causes of death globally and affecting an estimated 43.8 million indviduals.1
One particularly difficult aspect for patients and families is that the diagnosis of AD has historically been based on clinical symptoms. Those symptoms can appear years after the disease-related pathological changes first developed.2
Through many years of research, we’ve learned that the symptom-based diagnostic approach has limitations. First, AD-like symptoms are not always caused by AD pathophysiology.3 Also, diagnostic frameworks based on clinical symptoms are not suitable for diseases, like AD, that have long preclinical or prodromal stages, which prove to be a critical window of time for early intervention.4
We believe strongly in the precision solutions approach that Eisai is developing, primarily because it addresses some of the aforementioned limitations. By researching pathways and specific therapies, more personalized approaches may be taken.
Precision solutions are developed for different stages and manifestations of AD, to cover the continuum of disease that people may be experiencing, following Eisai’s research and development. For example, the use of the amyloid-β pathway for targeted disease-modifying therapies. The amyloid-β pathway is an early and key pathophysiological mechanism of AD. Amyloid-β is a protein fragment that accumulates in the brain, disrupting communication between brain cells, eventually killing them.5
Eisai is one of the only companies with programs targeting several key areas: amyloid-β (the main component of the pathological hallmark of AD, e.g., plaques found in the brains); tau (the main component of another pathological hallmark of AD, e.g., neurofibrillary tangle found in the brains); neurodegeneration; inflammation; and the clinical symptoms of dementia, such as cognition and sleep-wake rhythm disorder.
Our 35-plus-year commitment to addressing AD is a testament to our human health care mission. We put our patients and their families first, and are always thinking of ways to increase the benefit they receive from health care. AD is one of society’s greatest unmet medical needs,6 and we’re determined to find targeted solutions that go beyond treatment to prevention.
It is an incredibly exciting time for AD research. The unprecedented confluence of medical knowledge, data analytics, and technological advances, combined with our focus on precision, driven by biomarkers across the disease continuum, makes Eisai uniquely positioned to research and develop new solutions for patients and their families, and to continue to lead the industry.
Collaborators, G.B.D. Global, regional, and national burden of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet Neurol 18, 88-106, doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(18)30403-4 (2019).
Holtzman, D.M. et al. Alzheimer’s disease: the challenge of the second century. Sci Transl Med. 2011 Apr 6: 77sr1, doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002369 (2011).
Jack, C.R. Jr., et al. NIA-AA Research Framework: Toward a biological definition of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia 2018 Apr; 14(4):535-562, doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2018.02.018 (2018).
McKhann, G. et al. Clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease: report of the NINCDS-ADRDA Work Group under the auspices of Department of Health and Human Services Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease. Neurology 34, 939-944, doi:10.1212/wnl.34.7.939 (1984).
Jack, C.R., Jr. et al. Introduction to the recommendations from the National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association workgroups on diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia 2011 May; 7(3):257-262, doi:10.1016/j/jalz.2011.03.004 (2011).
Rawan, T. et al. The clinical problem of symptomatic Alzheimer disease and mild cognitive impairment. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine; (2012).