Biotechnology firm Biogen Idec is developing an experimental Alzheimer’s treatment which seems to slow patients’ cognitive decline in a preliminary study.
The results of the small research offers greater hope for a new strategy tackling the terrible disease. The company is trying to develop a drug that can treat Alzheimer’s patients early, when the disease is not yet fully developed.\.
The data, which was published in a press release, confirms the hope that Biogen has offered over the past several months. Even if the results are encouraging, the small small size of the research still leaves great questions about whether the drug, known as aducanumab or BIIB037, will be as effective in larger studies.
More results will be released at the 12th International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases and Related Neurological Disorders in Nice, France.
Samuel Gandy, an Alzheimer’s researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine said that the data are “convincingly encouraging.” Drugs like the new BIIB037 are designed to clear plaques of the protein amyloid from the brain. This strategy has proven ineffective in previous research.
Most amyloid-clearing drugs have not managed to show significant benefits in large trials.
Bapineuzumab, developed by Pfizer, Elan Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson was a failure back in 2009. Solanezumab, a similar drug from Eli Lilly failed in 2012. Gantenerumab, a drug developed by Roche, failed in a large trial last year, but the company is continuing its work with crenezumab,another amyloid-clearing medicine.
Even though enormous sums of money are poured intro Alzheimer’s treatments by drug companies, the efforts at amyloid-clearing were simply starting too late. The disease was first described by German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer in the early 1900s.
But the results of Biogen’s early study, which was carried out on 166 patients, pointed the company in the right direction concerning the correct dose, which is a good reason for hope.
There are obvious signs that the drug helped remove amyloid plaque from patients’ brains. In the lowest dose, where patients got 1 milligram of BIIB037 per kilogram of body-weight, the standardized uptake value ration (SUVR), the measure of amyloid, dropped by 0.03, which was not very significant. In the group that got 3 mg/kg, it decreased 0.087, which was significant, while at 6mg/kg, it decreased 0.143, and at 10 mg/kg, by 0.205. This is what’s known as a dose response: the more drug was administered, the more plaque gets removed.
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