SAN FRANCISCO — The failure of a once-promising Alzheimer’s disease medicine from Roche appears to have a simple explanation: The drug didn’t do its job.
In a presentation just weeks after Roche announced the drug’s failure, the Swiss pharma giant on Wednesday said its treatment had a disappointing effect on a toxic protein called amyloid, whose accumulation in the brain is thought to drive the advance of Alzheimer’s. As a result, the treatment showed no significant benefit to patients’ cognitive and functional decline compared to placebo.
The release of the data, from two large clinical trials, came one day after a presentation about a different medicine, from Eisai and Biogen, which had dramatic effects on amyloid levels and led to a modest but statistically significant delay in Alzheimer’s progression. Viewing the studies side by side, some researchers concluded that investigational medicines might need to clear out substantial amounts of amyloid in order to show any benefits for patients.
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