New treatment strategies for Alzheimer's disease: Is there a hope?
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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive and irreversible neurodegenerative disease, and corresponds to the most common cause of dementia worldwide. Although not fully understood, the pathophysiology of AD is largely represented by the neurotoxic events triggered by the beta-amyloid cascade and by cytoskeletal abnormalities subsequent to the hyperphosphorylation of microtubule-associated Tau protein in neurons. These processes lead respectively to the formation of neuritic plaques and neurofbrillary tangles, which are the pathological hallmarks of the disease. Clinical benefits of the available pharmacological treatment for AD with antidementia drugs (namely cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine) are unquestionable, although limited to a temporary, symptomatic support to cognitive and related functions. Over the past decade, substantial funding and research have been dedicated to the search and development of new pharmaceutical compounds with disease-modifying properties. The rationale of such approach is that by tackling key pathological processes in AD it may be possible to attenuate or even change its natural history. In the present review, we summarize the available evidence on the new therapeutic approaches that target amyloid and Tau pathology in AD, focusing on pharmaceutical compounds undergoing phase 2 and phase 3 randomized controlled trials.