By John Harrison
I managed to find time last November to attend the second CNS Summit Meeting. It seems difficult to find time for these events, but I am always pleased to have the opportunity to attend. The theme for this event was development and innovation in CNS drug development, a topic close to my heart. Plus the Boca Raton Resort & Club is no bad place to hang out. We started with an excellent ‘Call to arms' from Patrick Kennedy, an inspirational speaker (and if you closed your eyes you could hear the same rich speaking tones of his uncle John). His topic was ‘The Importance of Collaboration and Innovation in Developing New CNS Treatments'. This is just one of the drives for innovation, a keenness to establish collaborative arrangements in a precompetitive space. The theme is one of sharing, especially of data collected for validation purposes. I'm convinced this is an idea whose time has come. Working in psychiatric and neurological drug development is a considerable challenge. Luca Santarelli, Sr. Vice President at Roche, has a magnificent slide on which he uses a Dantean metaphor comparing different therapeutic areas – with CNS development mapping to ‘hell'.
I get the opportunity to work in a number of CNS indications, but Alzheimer's disease (AD) still occupies more than 50% of my professional time. AD seems to me the quintessential example of the challenging CNS disease. We need desperately to find a cure, or even some symptomatic relief, as the number of cases in many countries is set to treble over the next few years. Not too long ago we had a number of compounds in late stage development, most of which were focused on amyloid plaques, one of the hallmark pathologies of this dreadful disease. Things are not so rosy now, with lots of high profile failures in the interim, though we still have Bapineuzumab and Solanezumab to read out.