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Though trials for Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE: JNJ) new Alzheimer’s drug bapineuzumab were halted at the end of August for failing to slow cognitive decline, a new study has shown that the experimental drug could reduce physical damage in the brain.
The original research found that both bapineuzumab and Eli Lilly’s (NYSE: LLY) similar drug solanezumab lessened nerve cell damage in the brain and reduced the buildup of beta amyloid plaque, the toxic protein known as the hallmark of the disease. But what researchers could not prove was that the drugs directly improved patient memory and cognition. This flaw in both bapineuzumab and solanezumab caused trials for both medicines to be stopped.
New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson presented new research at the this week’s European Federation of Neurological Societies meeting in Stockholm that renewed hope that anti-amyloid medications could be beneficial when administered before irreparable damage to the brain occurs. Currently, several United States-funded studies are being planned, testing whether the drug will have greater effect before the onset of full-blown Alzheimer’s symptoms. It will take between three to five years before results are available.
Many in the medical field believe that trial results so far have been weak. However, with positive results from upcoming trials, drugs that slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease could create a $20 billion market, according to Deutsche Bank analyst Barbara Ryan in a June note to clients.
For the 5.4 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s, the drugs currently available to treat the condition only temporarily treat its symptoms, rather than slowing or reversing the brain-wasting disease.
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