In a field littered with failures, Biogen Idec offered some potential hope Tuesday. The company said its experimental medicine for Alzheimer's disease showed promise in an early study, prompting it to move "aggressively" into the most advanced stage of studies.
Biogen shares rose more than 6 percent in early market trading on the interim phase 1b results. (Click here to get a real-time Biogen stock quote.)
Biogen's drug, BIIB037, aims to slow the progression of Alzheimer's by binding to buildups known as amyloid plaques and clearing them from the brain. The company said Tuesday that the interim analysis showed the drug reduced amyloid levels in the brain "in both a dose- and time-dependent fashion."
The drug also showed a positive effect on cognition compared with a placebo after 54 weeks in the study, Biogen's head of research and development, Doug Williams, said in a presentation at Deutsche Bank's BioFEST conference in Boston.
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"You've got me tongue-twisted with the Alzheimer's data," Deutsche Bank analyst Robyn Karnauskas told Williams later in the presentation.
The positive data are a surprise both because Alzheimer's has been such a tough field—with recent failed studies from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly—and because the study was in such an early phase; its primary goal was to assess safety, with amyloid reduction and cognition as secondary or exploratory endpoints.