Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Might Work if Given Earlier

It may be too soon to kick bapineuzumab to the curb, according to researchers at the Congress of the European Federation of Neurological Societies in Stockholm, Sweden, this week. The monoclonal antibody, which was being developed by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, recently failed to demonstrate improvements in Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients in two major trials, causing the companies to discontinue the trials. But an analysis of the effect of the drug on biomarkers in the study subjects shows significantly reduced levels of beta amyloid on the brain scans of patients who carry the ApoE4 gene mutation, a marker for increased AD risk.

"We were very disappointed that we were not able to come up with a treatment to provide to our dementia patients in the near term," Reisa Sperling, M.D., director of the Alzheimer's center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and leader of one of the studies, told the Associated Press. But she said brain imaging and spinal fluid tests are very encouraging and suggest "we were doing something to the biology of the disease." Eli Lilly has been evaluating a similar drug, solanezumab, and also found slight benefit in patients with mild AD.

Read more about the developmental history of both drugs in Psychiatric Newshere and here. For new research on genetic risk factors related to cognitive decline in AD, see the September American Journal of Psychiatry.

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