A  A  A   Print
Another Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Disappoints

Another Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Disappoints

WEDNESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- Yet another experimental drug has failed to help those who have Alzheimer's disease.

The drug, called semagacestat, was designed to block an enzyme called gamma secretase that makes beta amyloid, a sticky protein that clogs the brains of patients with the memory-robbing disease.

Animal studies and early human trials had suggested that the drug did what it was designed to do, but in a test of the medication in more than 1,500 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's, those taking semagacestat actually declined faster on thinking tests than those who took a dummy pill.

And those on the drug experienced more serious side effects, including skin cancers and infections.

The study results were published in the July 25 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

"You've got a very clear look at some not good results here," said study author Dr. Rachelle Doody, a neurologist with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Semagacestat is just the latest in a string of medications being tested for Alzheimer's that have faltered in late-stage clinical trials, and it is the second drug in its class to be shelved because it didn't work.

Last November, Bristol-Meyers Squibb announced that it was pulling the plug on its gamma secretase inhibitor, avagacestat.

"It clearly leads to the conclusion that targeting gamma secretase as a way to reduce amyloid simply doesn't work," said Steven Ferris, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at NYU's Langone Medical Center in New York City. "It doesn't appear that this is a promising target for treatment."

Researchers hope that studying why drugs like this fail may help drug manufacturers learn from their mistakes and pave the way for future successes.

Eli Lilly stopped the trial early, in 2010, after preliminary analysis of the data suggested safety problems with the medication.

The company then turned over all its study data to the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study, a project of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, for independent analysis.

"In the Alzheimer's field, that's unprecedented," Doody said. "There's never been an industry group that's turned over their data and said, 'We're giving up our rights to publish the data.'"

Doody said Lilly deserves a lot of credit for its efforts to get unbiased information to the public.

"Those on the drug did worse, and that's a very important thing to get out to the public," she said.

More information

For more on drugs in development to treat Alzheimer's disease, visit the Alzheimer's Association.

SOURE: Rachelle Doody, M.D., Ph.D., neurologist, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; Steven Ferris, Ph.D., director, Alzheimer's Disease Center, Langone Medical Center, New York University, New York City; July 25, 2013, New England Journal of Medicine

 
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.