“Frustrating” pretty much sums up the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Available treatments ease symptoms in some patients, but only temporarily — and many physicians think they are given too late. No breakthrough drugs have made it to market in two decades, let alone a disease-changing agent.
Hope for a such a treatment took a hit when Janssen and Pfizer shuttered analysis of four late-stage studies of an IV formulation of bapineuzumab after topline results of the first two trials failed to show improvements in cognitive and functional performance. The first study was limited to patients with the apolipoprotein epsilon 4 (ApoE4) genotype, and many observers did not expect success in this population. Hopes were higher that the antibody, believed to stop disease progression by breaking up amyloid beta, would be more successful in a second study involving non-ApoE4 carriers, but it did not. Phase 2 research into a subcutaneous formulation continues.
The bapineuzumab studies have reduced expectations for solanezumab, a Lilly entry that also strives to break up amyloid proteins. A phase 3 study is due out this fall; a phase 2 trial showed no benefit for patients.