“Expensive and disappointing”

The hope was to be able to Alzheimer’s with a drug therapy. Now, the disillusionment follows: Two clinical trials to test an Alzheimer’s drug have been terminated. The prospects of success were too low, reasoned the researchers, the decision-making. The tested antibodies could not stop as hoped, the decay of mental efficiency. The analysis showed an independent panel of experts.

The company Biogen had tested the active ingredient Aducanumab since 2017, together with the Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai for the market introduction. Safety concerns have played for the termination of the studies, no role. “It is a Disaster for the whole field,” commented Hans-Ulrich Demuth from the Leipzig Fraunhofer Institute for cell therapy and immunology the study.

More research is needed

In the case of the two interrupted studies with the antibody Aducanumab it is quite far advanced, so-called Phase 3 studies. In such studies it is to test the efficacy and tolerability of a new drug compared to a dummy drug. Previous studies had initially delivered promising results. As reported by Biogen researchers learning together with the Swiss science 2016 in the journal “Nature” that the anti-body-therapy-protein, reduced deposits found in Alzheimer’s patients in the brain. In addition, the deterioration of the mental capacity seemed to slow down.

The researchers had examined patients in a very early stage of the disease. Also in the two aborted trials, patients were treated in the early stages with Aducanumab. The disappointment to show, how complex, Alzheimer’s disease, said Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos. There is a need for further research to understand the illness better and to be able to potential therapies to be developed.

To view Demuth, it makes little sense, ongoing research with antibodies against the protein deposits to continue. “It is expensive and in the end, disappointing for donors, family members, Caregivers, and especially the patients.”

Since the study were not released data yet, currently only speculate as to why the drug was not sufficiently effective, says Richard Dodel, a neurologist at the University of Duisburg-Essen. “As frustrating as it is to have to hope for an effective therapy in a tangible future to give up, we will bring this data but more. Research is always a Try and Fail.”

On the stock exchange the news of the setting of the studies on Thursday led to a crash of the Biogen shares of almost 30 percent.