Biogen and Eisai launch late-stage study of BAN2401 in Alzheimer's

A woman with Alzheimer's desease at a nursing home in Angervilliers France

A woman with Alzheimer's desease at a nursing home in Angervilliers France

The company said it would also discontinue the phase-2 EVOLVE study of aducanumab, which was an extension of the phase-1b PRIME to evaluate the experimental drug's safety.

Investors believe the successful development of a treatment for Alzheimer's, which affects about 5.7 million Americans, will result in multi-billion dollar annual sales.

A sign marks a Biogen facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. January 26, 2017. Even so, experimental treatments have had a dismal track record, with more than 100 failures.

Clarity AD will enroll 1,566 patients with mild cognitive impairment due to AD or mild AD dementia with confirmed amyloid pathology in the brain. An independent data monitoring committee determined that completed studies were unlikely to show that the investigational compound benefited people with Alzheimer's when compared with placebo, the companies said.

Suneja said Biogen has about $42 billion in financing capacity and identified potential acquisition targets such as Sage Therapeutics Inc, GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH.O) and Zogenix Inc that are "very interesting companies that should be considered now, more seriously".

The companies will also discontinue a mid-stage study and a long-term extension study of aducanumab, which was created to target the brain-destroying protein beta-amyloid.

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"This disappointing news confirms the complexity of treating Alzheimer's disease and the need to further advance knowledge in neuroscience", Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said in a statement.

Biogen plans to disclose the detailed outcomes of ENGAGE and EMERGE studies at an academic meeting in the future. "We are running out of excuses" for why beta-amyloid treatments aren't working, said Zaven Khachaturian, editor-in-chief of the medical journal Alzheimer's & Dementia.

Eisai is aiming to realize prevention and cure of dementia through a holistic approach to dementia drug discovery research based on a foundation of over 30 years of experience of drug discovery activities in the area of Alzheimer's disease/dementia.

Two clinical trials for the testing of an Alzheimer's drug, have been canceled due to the lack of prospect of success.

Many companies are pursuing alternative theories for attacking Alzheimer's, such as focusing on tau, another Alzheimer's-linked protein, or on inflammation, which is believed to play a role in the very early formation of the disease.

Regardless, the Alzheimer's community here in Western New York, and beyond, is hopeful that trials of other drugs will work. But drugmakers "keep trying, hoping that the path they are on is going to give blockbuster drugs".

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