Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Bapineuzumab Tested For Late-Stage Treatment

Alzheimer’s disease drug bapineuzumab is being tested by a quartet of drug companies to determine its potential efficacy in late-stages of the devastating brain illness, but it apparently has yielded mixed results in clinical trials so far.

Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Elan are all aim to bring the drug to market. However, according to the Bloomberg news agency, “early data suggests that eve if it shrinks plaques, the drug may not greatly aid cognition.” Plaques found in the brain are considered the hallmark of the illness.

According to AP:

Bapineuzumab is one of the largest bets ever placed in the field of Alzheimer’s disease. More than 4,000 patients are participating in four studies around the world — two in people with a gene that raises the risk of Alzheimer’s and two in people who don’t carry that gene.

Official clinical data is expected to be reported in the fall, but the drug will be a topic of conversation next week at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The stakes are huge. According to Blomberg, if bapineuzumab and other therapies can address the cause, rather than the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, it could “alter the landscape of health care in the U.S., curbing an illness that may affect 16 million Americans by 2050, an increase from 5.4 million now, according to U.S. health officials.”

Alzheimer’s Association Chief Medical officer William Thies adds that “Alzheimer’s disease ends your dignity, separates you from all your resources and torments your family.”

In addition to bapineuzumab, two other drugs are undergoing testing to slow the progression of the disease: solanezumab and Gammagard.

Alzheimer’s disease sufferers have a lot to lose if the testing underperforms according to AP:

These three treatments are practically the “last men standing” in late-stage trials, after more than a decade of failed efforts to develop a drug to halt the mind-robbing disease…Experts say that if these fail, drug companies may pull out of the field in frustration, leaving little hope for the millions of people with the disease.