Biotechnology company Biogen Idec has released data from its Alzheimer's disease drug trial, which reveals that the drug slows down the neurodegenerative disease.
The Cambridge-based firm specialized in developing, discovering and delivering therapies for the treatment of autoimmune, neurodegenerative and hematologic diseases to patients across the world.
On Friday, March 20, the company released trial results, which suggests that the company's experimental drug reduced the mental deterioration of a small number of patients who showed early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
Jim Wessler, the president of the Alzheimer's Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, applauded the company's efforts and is hopeful that further experiments are successful.
"If some of these drugs can make it through clinical trials, they can have massive health benefits for millions of patients and their families," says Wessler.
The Biogen Idec study involved 166 patients. The researchers discovered that the drug was able to reverse the build-up of beta amyloid in the brain and slowed cognitive decline. The company also suggests that longer treatments and higher doses also results in additional improvements.
Experts explain that Beta amyloid are protein fragments, which develops plaque in a patient's brain, which results in neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers used PET scans for observing the protein.
The results of the latest trial are very promising as Biogen is planning to advance the experiment of aducanumab, the compound of the drug, to late-stage clinical trials, omitting mid-stage testing altogether.
"This is the first time an investigational drug for Alzheimer's disease has demonstrated a statistically significant reduction on amyloid plaque as well as a statistically significant slowing of clinical impairment in patients with prodromal or mild disease," says Alfred Sandrock, chief medical officer and senior vice president of Biogen Idec.
Sandrock also revealed that based on the results of the latest trials, the company will enroll patients for the clinical trials later this year.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency that approves new drugs in the country, must give a green signal for the scope and design of the trial before Biogen Idec can start further research in the Alzheimer's drug.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and affects millions of people worldwide. Currently, there is no cure for the disease and the condition of a patient deteriorates over time. A medicine to slow down Alzheimer's progression will be one of the biggest achievements in modern science.