Much of the excitement among pharmaceutical companies stems from advances in clarifying some of the brain processes and biochemical pathways that can hinder or help memory storage and retrieval, said Dr. Paul R. Solomon, of Williams College.
"The basic research into the causes of memory disorders is going very rapidly," said Solomon.
But it will probably be at least five years before any of those drugs meet Food and Drug Administration approval, researchers said.
Currently, there are three medications some doctors prescribe for Alzheimer's disease. If no effective drugs are found, the number of Alzheimer's patients could quadruple by midcentury.
"It's going to bankrupt our health care system, there's a need to find a way to short-circuit that impending disaster," Dr. William Thies, vice president of the Alzheimer's Association, told the New York Times.