Biogen's new drug offers hope for Alzheimer's patients.

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Cambridge-based pharmaceutical giant Biogen says it hasa promising new drug to fight Alzheimer's.

 

The therapy aims to slow the progression of the neurodegenerative disease by targeting the buildup of amyloid plaques, which experts believe cause Alzheimer's. It is estimated 47 million people worldwide and 5 million in the U.S.are living with dementia, of which Alzheimer's is considered the primary cause.

 

Biogen'sdrug, aducanumab, focuses on stopping the buildup of thesticky plaques to slow the progression of the symptoms related to the disease. At the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer's Disease conference last week, Biogenshared positive early results from its drug trials, showing less loss of cognition andsignificant reductions in amyloid plaques in the brains of patients when compared against a placebo.

 

The study included more than 100 patients with early indications and mild cases of Alzheimer’s, the Boston Globe reported.Patients at this stage of the disease typically have trouble remembering conversations, using things around the house or concentrating, but can otherwise function on their own. Continued decline, however, is a characteristic of the disease —something Biogen hopes to curtail with this therapy.

 

"It's our most developed program in Alzheimer's disease," Samantha Budd Haeberlein, vice president of clinical development at Biogen, told CNN. "The degree of effect we had regarding the reduction of amyloid plaques ... was very exciting."

Biogen has two other contenders to combat Alzheimer's, but neither are producing as strong results.

The news comes on the heels of a high profile failure by another drug researcher,Eli Lilly and Company, which last month it was ceasing production of its own version of an anti-amyloidtherapy.

Shares of Eli Lilly tanked, raising uncertainties over other Alzheimer's programs like aducanumab that were based on the beta amyloid theory, Nasdaq reported.

Biogen's latest findings have rekindled hope that an effective treatment for Alzheimer's could be on the horizon, and that investors will continue to back the studies.