On the announcement that Biogen and Eisai would discontinue two Phase III trials looking into the efficacy of aducanumab to treat Alzheimer’s disease, there were two significant repercussions.
The first saw Biogen’s share price drop by 28.65%, at the time of writing, to lose approximately $18bn (€15.87bn) in the overall value of the company – Eisai's also dropped by 17%; the second is damage done to the beta-amyloid theory, as a primary cause of Alzheimer’s degeneration and therefore as a therapeutic target.
Biogen stated in its announcement that the two clinical trials had been abandoned, after an independent data monitoring committee suggested that the trials were unlikely to meet their primary endpoint upon completion.
“This disappointing news confirms the complexity of treating Alzheimer’s disease and the need to further advance knowledge in neuroscience,” said Michel Vounatsos, CEO of Biogen.
Biogen is not the first company to struggle to make headway in the search for an Alzheimer’s treatment, particularly by focusing on the beta-amyloid theory.
At the beginning of the year, Roche’s drug candidate, crenezumab, also failed in two Phase III. However, the company is continuing to study the monoclonal antibody in another trial.
Roche’s treatment also focused on beta-amyloid that forms in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, and this latest trial failure – adding to previous difficulties experienced by the likes of Eli Lilly – raises serious questions about this approach.
Alzheimer’s treatment pipeline
Biogen and Eisai’s drug candidate’s failure is a disappointment to the Alzheimer’s community aiming to find a treatment for the neurodegenerative condition, especially as fewer large companies work in the space after several high profile failures.
Hilary Evans, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, released a statement after the news of the drug candidate’s failure, suggesting that there are still reasons to remain positive about future research.
“While today’s news is a setback, it’s important to remember there are more than 20 potential Alzheimer’s drugs still in final stage clinical trials. We must continue to support the pioneering researchers across the world who are taking us closer to unravelling this complex disease,” she commented.
However, when BioPharma-Reporter spoke to ProMIS Neuroscience, a company working on a treatment for the condition, those involved remainde confident that its approach could provide the breakthrough in the space. James Kupiec, CMO of the company, predicted that disease-modifying treatments could arrive on the market as early as 2025.