Each Friday for the last month I’ve compiled a brief rundown of a few technology stories that I’d been tracking for throughout the week.
Following these “Friday Briefings” is a quick survey where you can select the trend that intrigues you most. Then, if a specific topic gets a considerable amount of votes, I said that I would expand the idea into a full article the next week.
If the results from last week’s Briefing are any indicator, it’s clear that most of you (60%) are interested in the new, ground-breaking Alzheimer’s drug trial.
So, as promised, here’s a more detailed look at why you should be paying attention to this trial right now…
Breaking New Ground in Alzheimer’s Trials
The trial revolves around Genentech’s Crenezumab, which is designed to target the buildup of a toxic amyloid protein in the brain. And according to Dr. Eric Reiman of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, “Most, but not all, researchers believe that the accumulation of amyloid plays a critical role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Of course, one major problem with the way current trials are run is that participating patients are already experiencing signs of dementia. But this new study using Crenezumab will focus on preventing the disease before symptoms occur.
As I said last week, “Ordinarily, it would be difficult to generate concrete results from such a test, considering doctors can’t determine who’s certain to develop the disease in the first place.” But as CBS News says, “Now they’ve found one family in which nearly everyone develops Alzheimer’s.”
300 of these family members will undergo testing, all of whom are in their 30s with no sign of symptoms at this time.
The trial is a joint effort by Genentech, the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and the University of Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is also on board, as the study is part of the government’s goal to discover a cure for Alzheimer’s by 2025.
If the trial proves successful, it would be revolutionary in two ways.
The First Step Toward An Alzheimer’s “Vaccine”
First, and most obvious, is the fact that the drug could be used on people who have a history of Alzheimer’s in their family. That way, it could act as a preventative, opt-in measure to keep symptoms of the disease from creeping up early, or better yet, wipe out the potential to get symptoms entirely.
This outcome would be especially sweet for Genentech’s parent company, Roche Holding (PINK: RHHBY), as sales of the drug would be off the charts, here and around the world. Not to mention the market for Alzheimer’s drugs already topped $5.4 billion in 2010, and research firm Decision Resources expects that number to almost triple to $14.3 billion by 2020.
And since “current treatments do very little to help Alzheimer’s patients… [and] the last drug was discovered in 2003,” according to USA Today, a treatment that’s actually proven to irradiate symptoms would easily capture a major share of that market.
A successful trial could also speed up future clinical trials for new and promising Alzheimer’s treatments. Right now, it can take up to two decades to bring advanced therapies to the market with current trial methods, according to Dr. Reiman. But focusing solely on patients who are essentially guaranteed to get the disease could allow scientists to generate positive results faster.
Currently, 5.4 million people in the United States are affected by the disease and around 200,000 have early-onset Alzheimer’s. And by 2050 – as Baby Boomers get older – these amounts could triple. So the timing couldn’t be better.
We’ll be sure to monitor any results of the trial as they’re reported. In the meantime, let us know what you think of the Friday Briefing, or any of our recent work at Wall Street Daily. Head down to the comments below or you can use Facebook or Google+ to weigh in.