A setback for Alzheimer’s research

The recent halt to the Phase-III clinical trial assessing Verubecestat, a treatment developed by Merck & Co. for early Alzheimer’s, is a major setback for the amyloid hypothesis. A research branch developed in the last decade considers the development of amyloid plaques as the cause of the condition. Merck, Eli Lilly and Biogen are the Big Pharma companies which have most invested in such theory, by developing beta secretase inhibitors, such as verubecestat, designed to block an enzyme that is necessary for amyloid protein production. The failure by both Merck & Co.’s verubecestat and Eli Lilly’s solanezumab in demonstrating efficacy under clinical assessment puts the whole amyloid hypothesis in jeopardy, prompting some scientists to question whether beta-amyloid is an effect of the disease rather than the cause. The next company expected to announce trial results for an Alzheimer’s drug is Axovant, which is currently conducting a trial on a molecule apparently delivering a short-term boost to the cognition of patients. (Source FT)