As I wrote in a late July post titled Alzheimer’s Treatments Undergoing Late-stage Trials, we are now in a crunch time where long studied Alzheimer’s treatment drugs are in late-stage testing to see if they actually perform as researchers hope. Today, news broke that Pfizer’s Bapineuzumab, which failed the first late-stage trial last month, has failed the second trial. According to an article on Businessweek.com, most plans for further testing of the drug by Pfizer-J&J have ended. The company had hoped Bapineuzumab would be the first drug on the market to effectively slow or reverse Alzheimer’s disease.
Like many drugs being studied, Bapineuzumab was designed to stop or reverse the development of brain plaques caused by Amyloids which are insoluble fibrous protein aggregates in the brain commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the article, “Drug makers have been trying for more than a decade to find therapies to slow Alzheimer’s. While companies have focused on developing drugs to hinder the Amyloid deposits, scientists aren’t certain whether the clumps cause or are a minor contributor to the disease or merely a consequence.”
While the failure of the first study left some hope that the drug may help the small percentage of people with the ApoE4 “Alzheimer’s gene,” the second trial poked a hole in that theory, as well.
It’s sad to see the failure of this drug, but failure doesn’t mean that nothing is gained. There are researchers who feel that Amyloid’s may not be the cause of Alzheimer’s, so there is significant research going on with alternate targets. Failure in current clinical drug trials simply underscores the need for continued funding for alternate approaches to therapies for preventing or curing Alzheimer’s disease.
Langreth,R. and Tirrell, M. (2012, July 7) Pfizer-J&J Drop Alzheimer’s Drug Studies After Failure. Businessweek.com. Retrieved fromhttp://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-08-06/pfizer-j-and-j-drop-alzheimer-s-drug-studies-after-failure