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Mark down another failure in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease.

Roche (RHHBY) announced Wednesday morning that it is stopping two clinical trials of a drug it is developing to try to prevent the worsening of Alzheimer’s by targeting protein fragments known as beta-amyloid, which scientists have long believed are a key cause of the brain-destroying disorder. It adds to a heap of failures that includes efforts by just about every large drug company. No medicine has ever been shown to significantly slow Alzheimer’s, and the field has had no successes at all in more than a decade.


The news doesn’t matter much for Roche; shares were relatively flat Wednesday morning. But it is hurting shares of Biogen (BIIB), which is betting its future on another beta-amyloid-targeting drug. Biogen shares were down 3 percent to $322 in early-morning trading. And it is worse news for AC Immune (ACIU), the biotech Roche was working with on the drug, which has seen its shares drop 50 percent Wednesday.

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  • There are differences between the above mentioned antibodies that target different subclasses of amyloid protein. Drug discovery is filled with stories where subtle differences in molecules give remarkable differences in outcome. Agree with the other comment that there is likely a significant immune component to Alzheimer’s- whether triggered by infectious disease, abberant signalling or something else.

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