Current Alzheimer’s research
In the second half of 2016, Biogen Idec (BIIB) expects to publish safety data from its ongoing titrations trial of Phase 1b Prime study for aducanumab (or BIIB037), its investigational Alzheimer’s therapy. The study is a continuation of Biogen’s interim results from the study presented on July 22, 2015. To know more about the PRIME study, please refer to Biogen Presents Data from PRIME Study of Its Alzheimer’s Therapy.
Biogen is currently exploring the efficacy of aducanumab for the treatment of early stage Alzheimer’s patients in two Phase 3 studies. Enrollment of human subjects for these studies began in August 2015.
However, Biogen has to identify early stage Alzheimer’s patients for these trials, which has proved to be a major challenge. The company also faces limited availability of PET (positron emission tomography) scanners used to detect the presence of amyloid plaque in the brain. Biogen is screening patients using neuropsychological testing to identify those who need a PET scan.
The positive results from Biogen’s Phase 1b clinical trials have stirred up substantial interest in the patient community, which has helped support enrollment in these trials.
If approved, Biogen’s aducanumab will be a blockbuster in the $20 billion Alzheimer’s market. It will also imply a paradigm change in Alzheimer’s care. Aducanumab is expected to cure the cause of the disease rather than treat the symptoms. Drugs that treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include Actavis’s (ACT) Namenda, Pfizer’s (PFE) Aricept, and Novartis’s (NVS) Exelon Patch. To know more about the functioning of aducanumab, please refer to Market Response to Biogen’s and Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s Drugs.
In addition to aducanumab, Biogen in partnership with Eisai is developing two more therapies that target Alzheimer’s disease. Eisai is expected to release interim safety data for one of these Alzheimer’s drugs in 2016.
If these drugs prove successful, they will have a strong positive impact on Biogen’s share price and valuations. It should also boost the share price of the PowerShares Buyback Achievers ETF (PKW), as Biogen makes up about 3.3% of PKW’s total holdings.
In the next article, we’ll look at Biogen’s progress in the anti-LINGO multiple sclerosis trial and the status of its clinical trials for drugs in the treatment of children with spinal muscular atrophy.