Alzheimer disease research in the 21st century: past and current failures, new perspectives and funding priorities

Francesca Pistollato, Elan Ohayon, Ann Lam, Gillian Langley, Thomas Novak, David Pamies, George Perry, Eugina Trushina, Robin Williams, Alex Roher, thomas hartung, Ryan Merkley, Charukeshi Chandrasekera

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Much of Alzheimer disease (AD) research has been traditionally based on the use of animals, which have been extensively applied in an effort to both improve our understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of the disease and to test novel therapeutic approaches. However, decades of such research have not effectively translated into substantial therapeutic success for human patients. Here we critically discuss these issues in order to determine how existing human-based methods can be applied to study AD pathology and develop novel therapeutics. These methods, which include patient-derived cells, computational analysis and models, together with large-scale epidemiological studies represent novel and exciting tools to enhance and forward AD research. In particular, these methods are helping advance AD research by contributing multifactorial and multidimensional perspectives, especially considering the crucial role played by lifestyle risk factors in the determination of AD risk. In addition to research techniques, we also consider related pitfalls and flaws in the current research funding system. Conversely, we identify encouraging new trends in research and government policy. In light of these new research directions, we provide recommendations regarding prioritization of research funding. The goal of this document is to stimulate scientific and public discussion on the need to explore new avenues in AD research, considering outcome and ethics as core principles to reliably judge traditional research efforts and eventually undertake new research strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38999-39016
Number of pages18
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2016


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • 3Rs research

Cite this