Wissenschaftlicher Kongress

Désirée Veening-Griffioen

PhD Candidate Drug Innovation at Utrecht Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Utrecht University, Netherlands

Désirée Veening-Griffioen

Désirée Veening-Griffioen, MASc, is PhD Candidate Drug Innovation at Utrecht Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. This PhD project is funded by the Dutch Government and studies the value of animal models in drug development.

As scientist she has substantial experience in academic, pharmaceutical industry and food industry in the area of immunological and pharmacological fundamental research. Main projects were robust in vitro and in vivo method development, method validation and data warehousing.

About mice and bad science: the failed construction of Alzheimer as “drugable” disease


The prizes of new drugs are increasing dramatically and their efficacy and public health impact are diminishing rapidly. The current pharmaceutical model is therefore unsustainable and collapsing. The cause of this failure is complex. But one of the main drivers is the changed position of the pharmaceutical industry with is emphasis on shareholder value rather than medical need. The focus of pharmaceutical development is on chronic conditions like autoimmune diseases, cancer and Alzheimer needing life-long treatments.

However the progress in finding treatments for Alzheimer has been slow. The 400 clinical trials performed between 2002 and 2012 resulted in only one marketing authorization of a not very effective drug. Since 2012 there have only been announcement of failed trails which all share their basis on the amyloid hypothesis. It explains Alzheimer as caused by the accumulation of a protein fragment called beta-amyloid, which aggregates to form amyloid plaques in the brain. The negative results of the clinical trials that our understanding of Alzheimer is flawed.

We have studies the role of animal studies in the development of drugs to treat Alzheimer. These studies were done in the project financed by the Dutch government aimed at animal free drug development. We will present the main results of our study which shows that animal models of Alzheimer have been instrumental in medicalization of dementia and giving the wrong clue that dementia has a single cause and is “drugable” and ultimately can be solved by the pharmaceutical industry. Alzheimer is a good example of animal studies not helping to solve problems but complicating them.