A shockwave reverberated through the Alzheimer’s research community today after pharmaceutical company Biogen announced it was discontinuing two massive final phase human trials into the previously promising Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab. The announcement is the latest in a long line of failed Alzheimer’s drugs targeting the popular amyloid protein hypothesis.
2019 is shaping up to be a rough year for Alzheimer’s researchers and pharmaceutical companies. Back in January pharma giant Roche announced it was stopping its major human trials into a drug called crenezumab. Deep into phase 3 trials, and following on from years of study, the early final trial results suggested the drug simply didn’t work to slow, or reverse, the damage from Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, barely two months later, neurological pharma outfit Biogen has pulled the plug on its Alzheimer’s drug. Perhaps even more disappointing than prior negative announcements, aducanumab has been one of the most promising potential Alzheimer’s treatments moving through the pipeline over the past few years.
Aducanumab was developed by examining immune cells from unusually cognitively healthy senior citizens. A particular antibody was isolated that seemed to specifically target the toxic amyloid proteins commonly associated with Alzheimer’s. Early clinical trial results proved exciting, showing the antibody effectively, and safely, cleared amyloid plaques from Alzheimer’s patients, and improved cognitive symptoms.