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1.  Accelerating drug discovery for Alzheimer's disease: best practices for preclinical animal studies 
Animal models have contributed significantly to our understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease (AD). As a result, over 300 interventions have been investigated and reported to mitigate pathological phenotypes or improve behavior in AD animal models or both. To date, however, very few of these findings have resulted in target validation in humans or successful translation to disease-modifying therapies. Challenges in translating preclinical studies to clinical trials include the inability of animal models to recapitulate the human disease, variations in breeding and colony maintenance, lack of standards in design, conduct and analysis of animal trials, and publication bias due to under-reporting of negative results in the scientific literature. The quality of animal model research on novel therapeutics can be improved by bringing the rigor of human clinical trials to animal studies. Research communities in several disease areas have developed recommendations for the conduct and reporting of preclinical studies in order to increase their validity, reproducibility, and predictive value. To address these issues in the AD community, the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation partnered with Charles River Discovery Services (Morrisville, NC, USA) and Cerebricon Ltd. (Kuopio, Finland) to convene an expert advisory panel of academic, industry, and government scientists to make recommendations on best practices for animal studies testing investigational AD therapies. The panel produced recommendations regarding the measurement, analysis, and reporting of relevant AD targets, th choice of animal model, quality control measures for breeding and colony maintenance, and preclinical animal study design. Major considerations to incorporate into preclinical study design include a priori hypotheses, pharmacokinetics-pharmacodynamics studies prior to proof-of-concept testing, biomarker measurements, sample size determination, and power analysis. The panel also recommended distinguishing between pilot 'exploratory' animal studies and more extensive 'therapeutic' studies to guide interpretation. Finally, the panel proposed infrastructure and resource development, such as the establishment of a public data repository in which both positive animal studies and negative ones could be reported. By promoting best practices, these recommendations can improve the methodological quality and predictive value of AD animal studies and make the translation to human clinical trials more efficient and reliable.
doi:10.1186/alzrt90
PMCID: PMC3218805  PMID: 21943025
2.  Amyloid precursor protein selective gamma-secretase inhibitors for treatment of Alzheimer's disease 
Introduction
Inhibition of gamma-secretase presents a direct target for lowering Aβ production in the brain as a therapy for Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, gamma-secretase is known to process multiple substrates in addition to amyloid precursor protein (APP), most notably Notch, which has limited clinical development of inhibitors targeting this enzyme. It has been postulated that APP substrate selective inhibitors of gamma-secretase would be preferable to non-selective inhibitors from a safety perspective for AD therapy.
Methods
In vitro assays monitoring inhibitor potencies at APP γ-site cleavage (equivalent to Aβ40), and Notch ε-site cleavage, in conjunction with a single cell assay to simultaneously monitor selectivity for inhibition of Aβ production vs. Notch signaling were developed to discover APP selective gamma-secretase inhibitors. In vivo efficacy for acute reduction of brain Aβ was determined in the PDAPP transgene model of AD, as well as in wild-type FVB strain mice. In vivo selectivity was determined following seven days x twice per day (b.i.d.) treatment with 15 mg/kg/dose to 1,000 mg/kg/dose ELN475516, and monitoring brain Aβ reduction vs. Notch signaling endpoints in periphery.
Results
The APP selective gamma-secretase inhibitors ELN318463 and ELN475516 reported here behave as classic gamma-secretase inhibitors, demonstrate 75- to 120-fold selectivity for inhibiting Aβ production compared with Notch signaling in cells, and displace an active site directed inhibitor at very high concentrations only in the presence of substrate. ELN318463 demonstrated discordant efficacy for reduction of brain Aβ in the PDAPP compared with wild-type FVB, not observed with ELN475516. Improved in vivo safety of ELN475516 was demonstrated in the 7d repeat dose study in wild-type mice, where a 33% reduction of brain Aβ was observed in mice terminated three hours post last dose at the lowest dose of inhibitor tested. No overt in-life or post-mortem indications of systemic toxicity, nor RNA and histological end-points indicative of toxicity attributable to inhibition of Notch signaling were observed at any dose tested.
Conclusions
The discordant in vivo activity of ELN318463 suggests that the potency of gamma-secretase inhibitors in AD transgenic mice should be corroborated in wild-type mice. The discovery of ELN475516 demonstrates that it is possible to develop APP selective gamma-secretase inhibitors with potential for treatment for AD.
doi:10.1186/alzrt60
PMCID: PMC3031881  PMID: 21190552

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