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Biogen halts study of Alzheimer's drug, a blow to hopes for new treatment



A lzheimer's disease has beaten another effort to tame it

Biogen and its Japanese pharma partner Eisai said Thursday that they were two phase 3 clinical trials of aducanum, a drug that was designed to slow down Alzheimer's or targeting brain-destroying protein fragments known as beta-amyloid.

The decision to stop the trials was based on an interim analysis conducted by an independent monitoring committee. This analysis found that aducanumab was unlikely to benefit Alzheimer's patients compared to placebo when the trials completed, Biogen and Eisai said.

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Biogen and Eisai now join a long list of drug companies that have tried to develop successful treatments for Alzheimer's. The failure of aducanumab is particularly discouraging for supporters of the beta-amyloid hypothesis. Aducanumab was supposed to be the drug that finally proved that eliminating clumps of beta-amyloid could stop the progression of the disease


Biogen and Eisai believed that aducanumab was more potent and did a better job of removing beta amyloid. They also enrolled patients in their trials who had every early signs of Alzheimer's disease, with the belief that this would improve the chances of success. It did not.

"This disappointing news confirms the complexity of treating Alzheimer's disease and the need to further advance knowledge in neuroscience. We are incredibly grateful to all the Alzheimer's disease patients, their families and the investigators who participated in the trials and contributed greatly to this research, ”Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said in a statement.

Biogen bet heavily on aducanumab, resisting calls from investors to diversify in a meaningful way to protect itself from ultra-risky Alzheimer's endeavor. Now that aducanumab has failed, how does Biogen recover? Where will future growth come from? These are uncomfortable questions the company will face in the days ahead.

Biogen shares are down 26 percent in early Thursday trading, almost $ 1

6 billion in market value.


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