In its quest to fight Alzheimer's, pharmaceutical giant Merck has recently announced that halting of their late-stage trial of its promising Alzheimer's drug, verubecestat. The decision was said to have come after after an independent study has determined that there was virtually no chance of it working. Prior to this, it was found that solanezumab, another Alzheimer's drug has also been identified as a failure after patients taking it demonstrated no signs of improvement compared to those taking a placebo.
Merck's Failure To Launch Alzheimer's Drug
In one of his statements reported by Local SYR, president of Merck Research Laboratories, Dr. Roger Perlmutter said that despite the fact that they are disappointed with the results that a benefit was not observed in this study, he reveals that their work continues to study the impact of verubecestat in people with less advanced disease. It was found that both of Merck's drugs target the beta amyloid plaque, which is the sticky gunk that accumulates in the brains of people with the disease. Apparently, a significant number of experts say that the failure of the drug on people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's can be considered as a substantial setback.
Furthermore, according to reports by New Scientist, authorities have revealed that Merck's drug, which has been tested on people with mild or moderate Alzheimer's, did not help them at all, despite earlier studies showing that it could safely switch off the production of amyloid in the brain. Bryce Vissel, from the University of Technology Sydney in Australia has also said that numerous attempts by many drug companies to block amyloid in the brain have failed, repeatedly, which have led him to advocate to new approaches that needs to be developed, and new directions in research supported. As of the press time, the Alzheimer's Disease International said that around 47 million people currently live with dementia worldwide, with Alzheimer's estimated to account for 60 to 80% of dementia cases.
A Cure No More?
Meanwhile, despite Merck's failure, authorities say that it may not be the end of the verubecestat story, because a parallel study of the drug continues. It might not have worked in people with mild or moderate Alzheimer's because there was already too much amyloid plaque in the brain. Researchers have further revealed that the parallel study is allegedly looking into the drug's effect in people at a much earlier stage of the disease, when patients are believed to have so little plaque that's stopping it in its tracks will prevent further symptoms.