Biogen planning late-stage Alzheimer’s drug trial

Biogen Idec’s research chief yesterday said the company is planning a late-stage trial of its experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s disease after the drug cut brain plaque levels and significantly improved cognition in a small early-stage study.

Biogen planning late-stage Alzheimer’s drug trial

Shares of Biogen, whose main drugs treat multiple sclerosis, were up 6% in early trading on the Nasdaq.

Douglas Williams, speaking at the Deutsche Bank BioFEST conference, said the encouraging data was seen in a Phase 1b trial of its BIIB037 drug. It was tested in patients with mild symptoms of the progressive neurological disease, or in those who did not yet have apparent symptoms but had other possible signs of Alzheimer’s.

The medicine, like many other experimental Alzheimer’s drugs that have failed in studies or are continuing to be tested, blocks beta amyloid, a protein that plays a key role in the buildup of toxic plaques in the brain that are considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

“We are preparing to implement a Phase III study in early Alzheimer’s as soon as we can,” company spokeswoman Kate Niazi-Sai said.

The most significant side effects seen with BIIB037 were signs of possible brain swelling and tiny haemorrhages, which the company described as “largely mild to moderate, and self-resolving”.

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