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Stocking the Armamentarium

Though each company is desperate to be first, many will likely emerge with successful (and lucrative) drugs. “The field is wide open,” says Needham’s Monane. “There’s room for multiple winners in the race.” And, indeed, most researchers in the field agree that no single drug is likely to work for every Alzheimer’s patient.

Instead, it will probably take a “cocktail” approach, analogous to today’s AIDS therapy. So, although secretase inhibitors and a vaccine effort at Elan (see companion article “Injection of Hope”) hold the most promise now, other classes of drugs could also be useful. “We will probably find out that many different things are contributing to this disease,” says the University of California, San Francisco’s Mucke. “And it is worthwhile to develop treatments to hit each one of those, and then see what combination will be most effective.”

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