Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

TR: What makes Alzheimer’s such a difficult disease to target?

DM: Alzheimer’s disease progresses slowly and insidiously. By the time you see symptoms, that individual already has significant impairments. So we also have a big effort to identify biomarkers. (See “A Blood Test for Alzheimer’s?”) So we want to identify things that progress with the disease but change more quickly and are less variable. Having these markers will also allow shorter clinical trials.

We are also starting to look at markers for schizophrenia, which probably has several different pathologies. We want to understand who has what and use those markers to select interventions.

TR: Tell me about some of Merck’s drug candidates that are nearing approval.

DM: We have a novel migraine treatment in phase III clinical trials. Migraines are usually treated with tryptans, which are vasoconstrictors. While we don’t know exactly how this compound works, it does not act through this mechanism. In phase II clinical trials, it was shown to be very effective at aborting migraine attacks.

We are also testing a new ophthalmology treatment–a helical intraocular implant device. Right now, if you want to deliver drugs locally to the eye, you must give multiple injections. This device is coated with drugs and can be implanted into the eye, reducing the frequency of invasive procedures. We are currently testing it for diabetic macular edema, but we ultimately plan to use it to deliver novel compounds we are developing for age-related macular degeneration. The benefit is that we can use it to deliver drugs that might be problematic in the body but are okay if delivered in small amounts locally.

2 comments. Share your thoughts »

Credit: Weber Shandwick

Tagged: Biomedicine, neuroscience, drugs, Alzheimer’s

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me