Alzheimer disease (AD) is a major public health issue with a prediction of 12 million Americans being affected by 2025 from the present 4 million. Molecular and genetic findings have provided significant insights into the roles that amyloid, tau, and apolipoprotein E isoforms have in the causation of AD. A central issue in AD pathogenesis is the amyloid cascade hypothesis. It states that abnormal amyloid processing and accumulation is the primary causative factor of AD and other associated neuropathologic abnormalities are of secondary consequence. It is presented to provide the rationale for novel drug and vaccination therapeutic strategies. Future research directed at prediction and prevention of AD through a genomic and proteomic analysis with identification of multiple polymorphic genes that interact, resulting in increased risk for late-onset AD, are the realistic and ultimate goals. A new approach for drug development is required, one that will emphasize a genomic and proteomic analysis to identify at-risk gene sets whose genetic expression is sufficient to cause late onset, sporadic AD. Prediction and prevention of disease prior to clinical signs and symptoms are the goals.
A review and analysis from electronic literature databases and subsequent reference searches of the molecular genetic data. including pertinent genetic mutations and abnormal biochemical findings causal of AD, are cited. The amyloid cascade hypothesis, the contributions of apolipoprotein E, and hyperphosphorylated tau are discussed as to their roles in pathogenesis. Molecular targets for potential drug and vaccination therapies are cited from a critical assessment of the molecular and biomedical data. These data form the basis for rational, target-specific drug and vaccination therapies currently employed and planned for the near future. Phase 2 and 3 clinical trial results of drug and vaccination therapies are cited.
A new approach is needed as current pharmacologic therapy directed at symptomatic relief has proved to be marginally effective. The genomic and proteomic basis of AD will be defined in the near future, and corresponding molecular therapeutic targets will be identified. Genomic neurology has arrived and its application to resolving AD is our best hope.