Alzheimer’s affects nearly 50 million people worldwide. As humans are living longer this number is targeted to reach 135 million by 2050. Unfortunately, a cure for Alzheimer’s has yet to be found. In recent years, however, Biogen has been pioneering studies that were more successful than those of other pharmaceutical competitors in the fight to slow the progression of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.
In light of new research milestones reached by Biogen, researchers developed a new sense of confidence that currently evaluated drugs, which target the plaques that destroy the brain tissue, can be effective in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. This new sense of hope was developed because the Biogen findings supported a current hypothesis that drugs need to target a particular protein that plays a role in the development of the plaque. These proteins are called beta amyloids. Now, researchers are further experimenting with variables, such as doses, phases, and time, in order to hone in on the best results for treatment.
The Research Ripple Effect
In light of Biogen findings, Daniel O’Day, a pharmaceutical leader at Roche, said that his researchers would repeat the experimentation and evaluate two experimental Alzheimer’s drugs, which did not provide the desired results in 2014.
Hope was regained because the trials conducted by Biogen showed that their drug treatment has the ability to slow down the cognitive decline for patients with mild symptoms. This is considerably good news in a field with high-profile pharmaceutical failures from organizations like Pfizer and Eli Lilly. The medicine, Aducanumab, developed reduced levels of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are the plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. A reduction in the plaque causes a significant reduction in the rate of disease development. This research will ripple through the industry to create new advancements.
At the moment, the industry has only a few options for Alzheimer’s drugs. This short list of treatments includes Aricept, which has a limited function. Aricept can only alleviate some of the symptoms associated with declining mental function and memory loss. However, the benefits of Aricept are short-lived as the disease progresses, and there’s currently no cure for it.
Although there were approximately 244 Alzheimer’s drugs tested in the last decade, only one was approved for marketing, Ebixa. However, Ebixa is merely used to alleviate symptoms, so Biogen’s research is actually a significant milestone in the search for a curative medicine.
As we stand today, Biogen said its drug, Aducanumab, reduced cognitive decline by as much as 71 percent. However, another study with a bigger sample is necessary for increased accuracy of results.
Biogen expects to begin late-stage studies this year, and the plan is to test two levels of doses. The lower dose will be for the type of patient with a genetic mutation, which has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The higher dose will be used for another study for evaluation of variables.
As a pioneer and leader, Biogen is leading the way toward a cure, while giving hope and direction to the rest of the pharmaceutical industry.