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Biogen Stock Surges After Positive Results in Alzheimer's Trial

Biogen Stock Surges After Positive Results in Alzheimer's Trial
(Tero-Vesalainen/Dreamstime)

Friday, 06 July 2018 07:34 AM

Biogen Inc. and Japanese partner Eisai Co. surged after a closely watched Alzheimer’s drug showed positive results in a large clinical trial, raising hopes for one of the most thorny areas of drug development.

Alzheimer’s progressed more slowly in the brains of patients who got the highest dose of the experimental drug, BAN2401, the partners said in a statement. The success came after 18 months of treatment, following a failure in an earlier analysis after just a year.

The study is a rare bright spot in the search for a treatment for Alzheimer’s, where more than 100 experimental drugs have failed. Drugmakers have persisted in part because of the size of the potential market -- as much as $30 billion in the U.S. alone, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analysts. The read-across from Biogen’s success will depend on the details of the data, set to be presented at a medical meeting, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Sam Fazeli.

“The question is, is it real?” Fazeli said. “When we see the data, will the room be filled with oohs and aahs, or will the room say, ‘oh my god, not again?’”

Eisai said it will talk to regulators about how to proceed with the next step in development, which would normally require another big trial to validate the results.

Shares of the Japanese company soared by their daily limit of 19 percent, the most since March 2015, in Tokyo on Friday. Biogen (BIIB) rose as much as 15 percent in premarket trading, which would be the biggest intraday gain since 2013. BioArctic AB, the Swedish biotech that discovered the experimental drug, more than doubled in Stockholm.

The result of the study, which involved more than 800 patients, was a “best case” scenario for the drug, Jefferies analysts led by Michael Yee wrote in a note. Expectations were low after the December readout didn’t hit its goals, while other recent Alzheimer’s studies have also disappointed, the analysts wrote.

BAN2401 targets what may be the most toxic form of beta amyloid, a protein thought to be involved in Alzheimer’s. Amyloid is deposited in the brain many years before signs of disease start to emerge. The protein is probably more important in the early stages of the disease, which may explain the failure of beta amyloid-targeting drugs in trials focused on advanced disease, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Roche Holding AG is among the other companies still investing in compounds that target beta amyloid. Eli Lilly & Co. and AstraZeneca Plc abandoned another compound last month after the treatment failed to show any signs of working.

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Biogen Inc. and Japanese partner Eisai Co. surged after a closely watched Alzheimer's drug showed positive results in a large clinical trial, raising hopes for one of the most thorny areas of drug development.Alzheimer's progressed more slowly in the brains of patients who...
biogen, positive, results, alzheimers, trial, shares, stock, price
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2018-34-06
Friday, 06 July 2018 07:34 AM
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