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Biogen, Neurotrope, Anavex And The Future Of Alzheimer's Treatments

Mar. 01, 2018 7:57 AM ETAVXL, BIB, NTRP32 Comments
Lane Simonian profile picture
Lane Simonian


  • Various red flags raise doubts that Biogen's aducanumab - an amyloid antibody - will be effective in treating Alzheimer's disease.
  • At the highest concentrations, Anavex 2-73 - an antioxidant drug - led to sustained improvements in cognition in most early stage Alzheimer's patients for two years.
  • Neurtrope which is a protein kinase C activator led to improvements in advanced Alzheimer's patients who were not taking Namenda.
  • Advice mostly based on the science: sell shares in Biogen, buy shares in Anavex, and hold shares in Neurotrope.

There are basically two approaches to Alzheimer’s research: the traditional and the non-traditional. The traditional approach focuses on preventing the formation or removing misfolded proteins: amyloid and tau. The non-traditional approach focuses on ameliorating other aspects of Alzheimer’s disease such as oxidative stress, inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction. The former approach currently dominates clinical trial research but has not shown any success. The latter has been tried much less frequently even though some initial results have been positive. As an investor, banking on the traditional approach is risky because of the track record of failure. On the other hand, banking on the non-traditional approach is risky because it is being undertaken by small biopharmaceutical companies that may not have any large-scale results to present for several years.

Biogen (BIB) is now seen by many as the last hope for the amyloid approach to Alzheimer’s disease. Its drug - aducanumab - removes both amyloid plaques and oligomers (the latter of which may be the “toxic species”). But red flags keep popping up for the company. First, its three and ten milligram doses appeared to significantly slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease but not its six milligram dose. Second, the large number of dropouts due to adverse effects in the 10 milligram group mostly included individuals with the Apoe4 gene who progress more rapidly during the early stages of the disease. These dropouts made it appear that the higher dose was more effective in slowing down the progression of the disease than it actually was. And perhaps, most important, the company appears not to be seeing much variation in results for current trial participants so it is increasing the number of enrollees.

Biogen has a large drug portfolio (including a tau antibody for Alzheimer’s disease) and has been acquiring other drug candidates, but its stock

This article was written by

Lane Simonian profile picture
Retired history instructor. Alzheimer's disease researcher for the past decade.My goal is to give investors solid advice based on the mechanisms of action of Alzheimer's drugs.  This advice is informed by  a background in biology (conservation, ecology, evolution, environmental science, and biochemistry) and seventeen years of a very in depth review of the research on Alzheimer's disease.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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