LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -– A promising Alzheimer’s treatment was pulled from clinical trials on Thursday and now local researchers are wondering if the pharmaceutical company gave the drug enough time.
"This was pretty disappointing news for us,” said Dr. Aaron Ritter, Director of Clinical Research at Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Dr. Ritter and his team had been participating in the study for the last two years. Eight patients with early onset Alzheimer’s participated in the study. "It's really hard in a decades long disease to prove benefit in the course of a year and a half."
The drug is called Aducanumab and it was manufactured by pharmaceutical company, Biogen. It breaks up Amyloid Protein or plaque, which destroys memory and basic functions in the brain. It was one of the most successful treatments for Alzheimer’s developed in more than a decade.
Dr. Ritter explained that when big pharmaceutical companies like Biogen begin a billion-dollar trial, it has checkpoints during the study. Checkpoints prevent companies from losing money on a drug that will likely not be approved by the FDA. A recent checkpoint determined Aducanumab wasn’t showing any benefits.
Dr. Ritter argued the trial wasn’t given enough time.
“This disease is a disease that [affects] people…for years to decades,” said Dr. Ritter. “They were trying to show in a period of one year or a year and a half, that the medicine would have a big impact on the disease course. That's a pretty high bar to set."
Dr. Ritter and his team have halted their Aducanumab trial but aren’t giving up hope for a treatment or cure. Lou Ruvo is participating in a number of other Alzheimer’s related studies.
"Everybody that's over the age of 60 is at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease and we don't have effective therapies right now,” said Dr. Ritter. “We need to continue to fight against this disease because this disease is not stopping."