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During Alzheimer's Awareness Month, 3 Companies Working Furiously Hard For A Treatment

|Includes: Axovant Sciences (AXON-OLD), BIIB, IBB, RHHBY, XBI

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It's Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month.

Alzheimer's Disease is a horrible progressive brain disorder. It eventually destroys your memory, and your thinking skills. In honor of Alzheimer's awareness month, we're listing some scary facts about the disease, some recent developments in Alzheimer's talk about some companies that are currently working treatments/cures.

5 Scary Facts About Alzheimer's:
  • 45% of seniors aged 85 and older have Alzheimer's.
  • Alzheimer's disease kills more people than Breast Cancer & Prostate Cancer combined.
  • Nearly 60% of people believe Alzheimer's is part of the natural aging process.
  • Alzheimer's will cost the US $236 billion in 2016
  • Maybe the scariest of all: Even though over 5 million Americans have the disease, there is no cure, not even a treatment, for such a prevalent disease. There's medicine to treat symptoms, but not disease progression.
On A Positive Note:

Because Alzheimer's has no treatment for disease progression, there's a huge 5 million person pateint pool just waiting to be tapped by growth hungry drug companies. There are 542 open clinical trials focused on Alzheimer's disease that are listed on the FDA's Clinical Trials Website. That means a lot of people are working furiously hard to find the missing link with this devastating disease.

Speculation & Possible Treatments:

There are various pieces of evidence that point to different potential causes for Alzheimer's: a leaky blood-brain barrier or beta-amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. Although we're not positive on any one cause just yet, there are several drug companies with drug candidates in clincial trials right now. We've decided to list a few and describe how these drug candidates are targeting Alzheimer's disease.

  1. Axovant's RVT-101: RVT-101 was initially developed by Glaxosmithkline. But after the drug suffered some mid-phase clinical trial disappointments, Glaxo sold the drug to Axovant for $5 million plus royalties. Axovant then hired the scientists responsible for the successes of Aricept and Namenda to develop RVT-101 into a successful treatment.
    RVT-101 is an antagonist of the 5HT6 receptor in the brain. Blocking this receptor promotes the release of acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter needed for normal cognition and function. Axovant hopes using a 5HT6 antagonist in combination with Aricept(donepezil), an already approved acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, will be enough to improve cognition in the brain without any serious side effects. The RVT-101 trial is scheduled to be completed in October 2017.
  2. Biogen is taking a different approach with BIIB-037(aducanumab). BIIB-037 targets the beta amyloid buildup that we mentioned earlier. It's an anti-beta-amyloid antibody that binds to the plaque in the brain and (hopefully) reduces buildup, therefore slowing disease progression. BIIB-037 suffered a setback last year when the mid range dosage of aducanumab fell short of clinical significance on two key efficacy measures. While other dosage levels did better, a mid-range dosage not matching up performance wise with other dosages will undoubtedly raise questions if the drug makes it to FDA scrutiny. With that said, it's not a nail in the coffin for BIIB-037 either. If other dosages that showed clinically significant responses continue to perform well, the drug could still be approved on that basis. The drug is currently in phase 3 testing and final data should arrive in 2018.
  3. AC Immune is almost exclusively an Alzheimer's disease company. With the exception of a phase 1 down syndrome trial and some other pre-clinical trials, AC Immune has drug candidates in trials for Alzheimer's treatment and prevention. They also have some pre-clinical diagnostics agents. Their leading drug candidate is Crenezumab, an anti-Abeta(amyloid beta) antibody. In 2014, AC Immune's partner Genentech measured a 52% reduction in cognitive decline in a phase 2 study. Crenezumab is currently in phase 3 clinical trials which are scheduled to be completed in August 2020.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.