The Scientist magazine recently featured an opinion article from Lovelace Biomedical Senior Scientist Edward Barrett, Ph.D., who shared his research that suggests canine models may offer the best preclinical outcomes for investigational therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases.
Dr. Barrett explains the drug industry’s challenge to meet clinical endpoints for Alzheimer’s therapies that have shown promise in mice: “Despite researchers’ valiant efforts to stall, slow, or even beat this devastating neurodegenerative condition, there are still no effective drugs available to the estimated 5.4 million Americans with the disease.”
Canine models, he says, are a better disease model than mice for Alzheimer’s.
“Unlike mice, dogs naturally develop beta-amyloid plaques (the protein’s amino acid sequence in dogs is identical to that of humans), and show associated cognitive decline as they age. This is a unique quality of dogs and only a handful of other animals; even nonhuman primates do not exhibit this combination,” he says.
In the article, Dr. Barrett provides the results from his research at Lovelace, which provides a strong indication that pharma companies could save time and money by testing their therapies in canines before advancing into human trials.
“The fact is that dogs more closely model human disease and cognitive decline, which, in a way, is priceless — especially for drug developers going after diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, in which age is a central component of the condition,” he writes.