prof. dr. Bengt Winblad, dr. med.
Karolinska Institutet Center for Alzheimer Research, Division of Neurogeriatrics, Huddinge, Sweden
Professor Bengt Winblad, MD, PhD has been involved in the field of dementia research for many years. After pre-clinical medical studies in Vienna, Austria, he became MD 1971 and took his PhD in 1975 at Umeå University, Sweden, where he also became Docent in 1977 and Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Chief Physician in 1982. Since 1987, he is working in Stockholm, Sweden as Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet and is co-heading the Clinical Trial Unit at the Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge. Professor Winblad was the first Director of the Alzheimer Research Center at Karolinska Institutet. He is the Director of the Swedish Brain Power research network.
He chaired the Medical Scientific Advisory Panel of the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) 2007-2013. He is chairing the European Alzheimer Disease Consortium (EADC). He was the Coordinator of the first EU Joint Program on Neurodegenerative Disorders (EU-JPND) project on biomarkers in Alzheimer and Parkinson diagnostics, BIOMARKAPD, and is newly appointed Coordinator for a Marie Sklodowska Curie grant of 15 PhD students (SyDAD). He is a member of the Senate for DZNE in Bonn.
Bengt Winblad’s research interests are experimental and clinical Alzheimer research with a translational approach and focus on early diagnosis and treatment. He has been presented with a number of awards for his contribution to this research area. He was a member of the Nobel Assembly for Physiology and Medicine 1989-2008. He has taken the initiative regarding pharmaceutical treatment of patients with severe Alzheimer disease. Professor Winblad has been a tutor for more than 150 PhD students and has published >1000 original publications in the field of gerontology/geriatrics/dementia research.
Bengt Winblad, together with Khalid Iqbal and Henry Wisniewski, is the founder of the ICAD conferences (currently renamed AAIC).
Bengt Winblad was in 2009 ranked the world’s most profilic researcher in the Alzheimer field (J Alzheimer’s Disease 2009).
Present and future treatment possibilities in Alheimer disease
In 2015, the number of people affected by dementia worldwide is estimated to almost 49 million, with an estimated cost of approx 818 billion USD. The prevalence of dementia is expected to reach 132 million in 2050, with an equivalent cost increase. The progressive nature of dementia influences the whole life situation for families during several years – decades and so far, no cure or highly significant symptom relieving treatment is available. Increased understanding of the pathophysiology of Alzheimer disease (AD) has given us new therapeutic targets, and by using new biomarkers possibilities to diagnose patients earlier.
Many clinical and experimental studies are ongoing, mainly based on anti-amyloid-β (Aβ) strategies, but the exact role played by Aβ in AD pathogenesis is not yet clear. Lately, also active immunotherapy studies on tau are introduced. Still, we need to acknowledge that a single cure for AD is unlikely to be found and that the approach to drug development for this disorder needs to be reconsidered. Preclinical research is constantly providing us with new information of the complex AD puzzle, and an analysis of this information might reveal patterns of pharmacological interactions instead of single potential drug targets.
The last drug to enter the market place was in 2002. Since then, many products in different development phases have failed. Why? Wrong molecules, inappropriate animal models, inappropriate proof-of-concept studies, heterogeneous patient groups, too advanced disease, non-relevant outcome measures, between-center variability in increasingly globalised multi-center trials?
Our hope for the future is not only to give the patient an early symptomatic relief but that new therapies could potentially slow or even halt the progression of the disease. Increased global collaboration between academia, industry and regulatory authorities is a vital step for a successful drug development.
We have good hope that ongoing studies directed towards both active and passive immunotherapy against beta-amyloid and/or tau metabolism will prove to be effective.