WNIF: Combating Alzheimer’s Together

Phyllis-Ferrell-2013-Bass-headshot - CopyToday’s guest blog comes from Phyllis Ferrell, Lilly’s vice president and platform development leader for the global Alzheimer’s disease team.

Next week I will join colleagues from across the globe for the World Neuroscience Innovation Forum. The goal of the Forum, the first to be hosted at the new Francis Crick Institute in London, is to bring together experts in neuroscience from around the world to spark new insights that will help combat diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The timing couldn’t be better, and as my Lilly colleague Dan Skovronsky, senior vice president of clinical and product development, recently told Forbes, “We’re in a perfect storm for dramatic innovation. It is a perfect storm of breaking science and unmet medical need.”

I agree with Dan – it truly feels like we are at a tipping point for the science of Alzheimer’s disease and Lilly’s commitment to making Alzheimer’s dementia preventable is steadfast.  As results of investigational therapies in Alzheimer’s disease continue to emerge, we are learning what works and what doesn’t. Lilly is committed to being transparent by sharing these data externally to move the field forward, and are hopeful that our industry colleagues will do the same. These scientific results, whether positive or negative, take us one step closer to finding a cure for this devastating disease.

Lilly has long recognized that none of us alone can beat this disease and collaboration is critical to success.  The concept of the World Neuroscience Innovation Forum, hosted by Partners HealthCare and the Francis Crick Institute, is to bring together experts with different perspectives to discuss how to reach a common goal – that is, tackling the most challenging neurological problems.  Alzheimer’s disease is a perfect target for this type of collaboration and there is significant activity already in the pre-competitive space.  For example, a new project called MOPEAD (Models of Patient Engagement for Alzheimer’s disease) aims to clarify the meaning of cognitive decline and raise awareness of symptoms of early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  Programs like MOPEAD, which focuses on early diagnosis, don’t just benefit research, they also make a difference today for the people who are affected by the disease by giving them the option, dare I say, the right, to consider participation in a clinical trial as part of their personal plans. 

The total estimated worldwide cost of dementia is $818 billion and it is expected to become a trillion-dollar disease by 2018. This disease doesn’t just cripple families; it will cripple our healthcare systems if we can’t find a way to slow it down.  We need more initiatives like MOPEAD – a willingness to join forces and build on collective successes, as well as learn from our mistakes. As we come together on March 27 for the World Neuroscience Innovation Forum, I will be ready and eager to learn from some of the best and brightest leaders in our industry and plan to share those learnings with Lilly and the Alzheimer’s community. The advancement of science depends on studies that conclude with either a positive or a negative outcome; it is only a true failure if we don’t learn from those findings and move forward.   You see, families facing Alzheimer’s disease don’t have the option to quit – and as Lilly Alzheimer’s researchers and scientists, we don’t believe we do either.

Learn more about Lilly’s commitment to Alzheimer’s research at Lilly.com

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