The most anticipated event for Biogen Idec's drug pipeline, Friday's release of data on its experimental Alzheimer's medicine, started 12 years ago with the rekindling of an old friendship.
It had been more than a decade since Dr. Al Sandrock, a neurologist in drug development at Biogen, had seen his friend Dr. Roger Nitsch. The two had met while both worked at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. But when Sandrock came across a paper in the journal Neuron describing an exciting early development in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, he got back in touch.
That was 2003. Nitsch was an author on the paper and a researcher in psychiatry at the University of Zurich; he ultimately founded a company called Neurimmune and forged a partnership with Biogen to help develop what became known as BIIB037. Now, Biogen is set to report the first full data in human trials from research on BIIB037 at an Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease conference in Nice, France.
Geoff Porges, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein, said the program "has become vitally important to Biogen, and also one of the most important clinical catalysts for the entire biotechnology group this year."
Cowen's Eric Schmidt estimates very positive data could drive the stock up $50 to $60, from about $428, or down the same amount if they're a bust ("somewhat disappointing" results that don't meet high expectations could drive the stock down $20 to $30, he said).