Beating the “memory thief”

I read an interesting article in the recent issue of “Fortune” magazine, Issue 5.1.15 on the race to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. They shared about an experimental drug by Biogen called aducanumab, which is still being clinically-trialled, and has created much positive buzz. With the numbers of people likely to get Alzheimer’s increasing in many countries and with no cure, and the high cost of caring for these patients, this news is promising. The article mentioned that the trial of the drug showed that amyloid plaques (associated with Alzheimer’s) were “greatly reduced”.

This comes at an opportune time when pharmaceutical science on the disease has had the “worst batting average of all”. The article said: “Of the 244 compounds that drug companies had tested against the disease in clinical trials from 2002 to 2012, just one had received FDA approval, according to a study last year by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic. (Fourteen are still in clinical testing.) That translates to a 0.4-percent success rate, compared with 19 percent for cancer drugs.

“Only five Alzheimer’s drugs have ever been approved, of which four remain on the market. All are aimed at treating symptoms of the disease, such as memory loss, rather than the illness itself – and none is considered by experts to be particularly effective,” said the article.

The drug heads to the next trial phase which will have lots more patients and the biotechnology company, if everything goes well, won’t be able to get the drug to market until at least year 2018. As the race continues with other companies eyeing a cure, we hope for more good news to come.


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