Merck scraps another late-stage Alzheimer's drug study

Merck scraps another late-stage Alzheimer's drug study

The logo of Merck is pictured in this illustration photograph in Cardiff, California, April 26, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake)

NEW YORK: Merck & Co Inc on Tuesday (Feb 13) said it will end another late-stage trial of an Alzheimer's drug because it was unlikely to work, adding to the pile-up of failures to find an effective treatment for the mind-wasting disease.

The company was testing the drug Verubecestat in patients with very early or prodromal Alzheimer's disease. It scrapped the study almost exactly one year after ending a different late-stage trial of the same drug in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

Verubecestat belongs to a class of experimental Alzheimer's drugs called BACE1 inhibitors that target an enzyme involved in the formation of the toxic amyloid protein that turns into plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

There have been a number of high-profile failures in Alzheimer's drug development in recent years. Pfizer Inc said last month that it was abandoning research to find new drugs aimed at treating Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Lilly previously endured multiple failures with its solanezumab, which also targets beta amyloid, but in a different way. In the most recent setback, Lilly said that drug failed to slow declines in mental capacity of patients with even mild symptoms.

Source: Reuters