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New clinical trial results may temper early hope for an experimental Genentech treatment that targets “tangles” of a protein called tau that’s thought to damage and kill neurons.

In a mid-stage study involving patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, the anti-tau antibody treatment, called semorinemab, did slow the rate of cognitive decline by nearly 44% compared to placebo — achieving one of the primary goals of the study. But it did not improve the function of patients in the study compared to placebo — failing to achieve the other primary goal of the study. Likewise, the drug did not show any improvement on two other widely tracked measures of cognition and dementia that served as secondary goals of the study.

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