Wissenschaftlicher Kongress am Samstag, 27. Oktober 2018 in Köln

Prof. Huub Schellekens

Prof. Huub Schellekens, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Prof. Huub Schellekens M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Huub Schellekens is professor of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He teaches Medical Biotechnology at the Department of Innovation Studies and has a research position at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the same university. He is the founder of the WHO Utrecht Center of Excellence for affordable biopharmaceuticals. He was a member of the Dutch Medicine Evaluation Board and National Expert of the European Medicine Agency. He is a medical microbiologist by training and works on the preclinical development of biopharmaceuticals. He has published more than 350 papers in peer reviewed international journals concerning many aspects of the development of therapeutic proteins. During recent years his work has included the immunogenicity of protein drugs, the problems related to biosimilars and the role of animal research in driug development.

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.