Discoveries Out of Discoveries: N.C. Researchers Carving New Paths          

A report from the ground at the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) by Taylor Wilson, a staff research champion for NC, SC & GA.

As I was wandering the poster rows in the exhibit halls of the San Diego Convention Center at AAIC, I found, as I am sure other’s did, that one “Ah Ha!” led to many more thrilling discoveries, whether it was because of questions or conversations, or just some interesting chart striking the eye. It was discoveries on discoveries.

I had the great honor of speaking with Dr. John Didsbury of Raleigh, NC, founder and CEO of TD3 Therapeutics, an Alzheimer’s Association Part the Cloud grant recipient. Dr. Didsbury spoke at the August 2 AAIC22 Press Conference about their PIONEER project. From the press release, “At AAIC, T3D Therapeutics reported positive interim results from their Phase 2 trial of T3D-959, an orally administered metabolic-focused treatment which seeks to overcome insulin resistance in the brain and restore the brain’s metabolic health. These encouraging preliminary results are a positive sign and we look forward to hearing final results in 2023.”

When I asked Dr. Didsbury what he though the most inspiring take away was from the data coming out of PIONEER was, he said “PIONEER provides a potential ray of hope for people who are in more moderate stages of this disease. There is sometimes a belief in this field that you can’t treat something if it’s not in the early stage. This study says ‘no’.”

As I was waiting my turn to speak to Dr. Didsbury, I stumbled upon another T3D Therapeutics poster presenting an argument about why differences in ethnicities should be considered in drug labeling development. At AAIC, we have had some very important conversations about the need for a focus and investment on diversity and inclusion for clinical trials. I mentioned the poster to Dr. Didsbury and he pointed to a young man and said “Our intern, Nick, pulled that together. He can tell you all about it.”

Nick Anderson has a bachelor’s in science and had the opportunity to intern with the T3D team as they were working on the PIONEER study. While Anderson was pulling out demographic specific data related to the study, as he did routinely, he was suddenly stuck by something.

In the screening tools they were using to consider trial participants, Hispanics were much more likely to be excluded as viable candidates because of a biomarker that showed they had HbA1c (a diabetic type 2 marker that affects how sugar binds to red blood cells) over the upper limit. They were excluded because that marker actually interferes with a mechanism of the drug. But it was only an issue in the Hispanic participants.

Anderson points to their enrollment for the study having over 50% Hispanic representation. And he points to difference in ethnic pathology as 1) why research studies must have more diversity to ensure that treatments and therapies being tested will help all people, and 2) that this data proves that ethnic differences must be considered when prescribing or creating treatment plans, at least when it comes to dementia drugs and therapies.

Out of one truly pioneer study, another study emerged that highlighted the important point that we still have many miles to go before we can truly “ENDALZ for All”. We will get there with a focus on diversity in our recruitment for clinical trials. You can learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association clinical trials at alz.org/trialmatch.


About the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC)

AAIC is the largest and most influential international meeting dedicated to advancing dementia science. Each year, AAIC convenes the world’s leading basic science and clinical researchers, next-generation investigators, clinicians and the care research community to share research discoveries that’ll lead to methods of prevention and treatment and improvements in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Read more about the highlights from AAIC22.

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