Macro Tsimmis

intelligently hedged investment

Élan (ELN) update #12

Posted by intelledgement on Tue, 17 Jun 08

Today we got proof that bapineuzumab works…sometimes.

Our premier biotech company Élan (ELN), in conjunction with partner Wyeth (WYE), today released selected preliminary results from their Phase 2 study of their anti-Alzheimer’s disease (AD) drug bapineuzumab (AAB-001). The bottom line: while overall, “[t]he study did not attain statistical significance on the primary efficacy endpoints…[p]ost-hoc analyses did show statistically significant and clinically meaningful benefits in important subgroups.” Basically, the drug appears to help patients who are not carriers of the ApoE4 gene. Carriers are at greater risk for early onset and more severe AD and unfortunately, bapineuzumab not only fails to help such patients but they suffer more adverse effects than non-carriers.

The good news, though, is that for non-carriers, “post-hoc analyses showed statistically significant and clinically meaningful benefits associated with bapineuzumab treatment on several key efficacy endpoints, including the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog), the Neuropsychological Test Battery (NTB), the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and the Clinical Dementia Rating – Sum of Boxes (CDR-SB),” according to the press release. (Of course this does not necessarily mean that these patients had improved cognition; just that they did not decline so far as the placebo group. We would not necessarily expect to see actual improvements, as bapineuzumab is designed to slow down or stop the damage to the brain that leads to the symptoms of AD, but not to repair the damage.) Non-carriers account for between 40% and 70% of the AD patient population in the USA

The market took this as good news on balance, in that bapineuzumab’s mechanism of attaching to the beta amyloid plaques that break down nerve cells in the brains of AD patients—thus allowing the body’s immune system to clear them out—appears to work, at least in some circumstances. ELN was up 11% to $30, the highest close for the stock since 2002.

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