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Potential treatment for Alzheimer's fails multiple studies

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 8 2012 4:30 p.m. MDT

Despite showing promise, a drug in the development stage aimed at treating Alzheimer's was recently found to be ineffective, and research into the possible treatment will be discontinued.

"Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson scrapped further studies of one of the most anticipated experimental drugs for Alzheimer's disease after it failed to help patients with the memory-robbing condition in a second high-profile clinical trial," reported Reuters.

The drug underwent two studies recently, both of which failed to produce positive results.

"Late last month, results of a large clinical trial of the drug, called bapineuzumab, failed to show that patients — all of whom carried a particular gene that raises the risk of Alzheimer’s — improved either cognition or daily functioning compared with a placebo," reported the New York Times. "The companies announced Monday that the results of a second trial, which tested the drug on patients who did not carry the gene, also did not meet its goals.

The results have left doctors and researchers disappointed, but not necessarily discouraged, as information obtained from the failure of this drug could be key to finding an actual cure down the road.

"We are obviously very disappointed in the outcomes of this trial. We are also saddened by the lost opportunity to provide a meaningful advance for patients afflicted with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers," Dr. Steven J. Romano, senior vice president of Pfizer's Medicines Development Group, said in the press release that was reported on in a CBS news article. "Yet these data, and the subgroup and biomarker analyses underway, will further inform our understanding of this complex disease and advance research in this field."

Alzheimer's is a deadly and costly disease that affects millions of people in America alone, and much progress has been made in terms of education and information on the disease.

"About 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association," reported CBS News. "It is the sixth-leading cause of death, and is the only cause of death in the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or sold. In 2012, the cost of caring for Alzheimer's patients in America will total an estimated $200 billion."

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