Background: Treatments are needed to address the growing prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Clinical trials have failed to produce any AD drugs for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval since 2003, and the pharmaceutical development process is both time-consuming and costly. Drug repurposing provides an opportunity to accelerate this process by investigating the AD-related effects of agents approved for other indications. These drugs have known safety profiles, pharmacokinetic characterization, formulations, doses, and manufacturing processes.
Methods: We assessed repurposed AD therapies represented in Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III of the current AD pipeline as registered on ClinicalTrials.gov as of February 27, 2020.
Results: We identified 53 clinical trials involving 58 FDA-approved agents. Seventy-eight percent of the agents in trials had putative disease-modifying mechanisms of action. Of the repurposed drugs in the pipeline 20% are hematologic-oncologic agents, 18% are drugs derived from cardiovascular indications, 14% are agents with psychiatric uses, 12% are drug used to treat diabetes, 10% are neurologic agents, and the remaining 26% of drugs fall under other conditions. Intellectual property strategies utilized in these programs included using the same drug but altering doses, routes of administration, or formulations. Most repurposing trials were supported by Academic Medical Centers and were not funded through the biopharmaceutical industry. We compared our results to a European trial registry and found results similar to those derived from ClinicalTrials.gov.
Conclusions: Drug repurposing is a common approach to AD drug development and represents 39% of trials in the current AD pipeline. Therapies from many disease areas provide agents potentially useful in AD. Most of the repurposed agents are generic and a variety of intellectual property strategies have been adopted to enhance their economic value.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Clinical trials; Disease-modification; Dose; Formulation; Repurposing.