Biogen Idec's most-watched experimental therapy, known as anti-LINGO-1, showed potential in a midstage study to reverse the nerve damage associated with acute optic neuritis. It's a hint the drug may work more broadly to reverse the damage in multiple sclerosis, an opportunity Credit Suisse pegs at more than $10 billion.
But some analysts said the results lacked clarity on the drug's ultimate potential success, and the stock declined after initially jumping as much as 7 percent pre-market.
Multiple sclerosis is characterized by damage and scarring to the myelin sheath, a protective layer around nerves; remyelination is the reparation of that damage. This study, dubbed RENEW, was in acute optic neuritis, or inflammation of the optic nerve, which is often associated with multiple sclerosis. The company and investors saw these data as potentially indicative of the drug's potential in MS.
"This is the first clinical trial to provide evidence of biological repair in the central nervous system by facilitating remyelination following an acute inflammatory injury," Biogen chief medical officer Alfred Sandrock said in a statement.