Lutz Frolich, MD, PhD: Tempering Expectations for Alzheimer Disease Advancements

August 16, 2018

The head of the Department for Geriatric Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health talked about the biggest challenges facing medicine in treating and understanding Alzheimer disease.

“We have great achievements in understanding the basic biology in Alzheimer, but it is still not quite clear if these particular types of pathogenesis are really the full story.”

Lutz Frölich, MD, PhD, the head of the Department for Geriatric Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health sat with NeurologyLive at the 2018 Alzheimer Association International Conference in Chicago, Illinois, to talk about the biggest challenges facing medicine in treating and understanding Alzheimer disease.

Frolich noted that while there have been exceptional achievements in bettering the diagnosis of the degenerative condition, things have been rather slow in the way of therapeutic developments. He also acknowledged that although science has grasped a basic understanding of the biology of the disease—an understanding that has evolved rapidly—the scientific community certainly still does not have a full understanding of Alzheimer disease. Despite having developed treatments that have made patients lives much better, Frölich admitted that at their core, they are only dealing with the symptomatic effects, and doing so with only moderate efficacy.

He also spoke about a hard to swallow truth in Alzheimer that's evolved into a less often discussed challenge: expectation. The Alzheimer community, he said, has failed to temper its expectations for therapeutic development in the last decade, which has resulted in let downs and a realization that perhaps an effective, disease-halting therapy is further away than originally believed.