In the long quest for an effective treatment against Alzheimer’s, this is still only a scientific step. We will have to wait months, even years, to know if this will have marked a turning point. In any case, for the first time, a treatment targeting the tau protein has shown at the stage of clinical trials a therapeutic effect considered significant.
Developed by the Vaud-based company AC Immune and the American company Genentech (a subsidiary of Roche), semorinemab thus reduced cognitive decline by 43.6% in patients followed in a phase II clinical study, intended to evaluate the efficacy of ‘a molecule.
The drug is one of four treatments that Swiss biotech has developed to try to neutralize the tau protein, suspected of being largely responsible for the progression of the disease: by forming neurofibrillary tangles, it causes cellular damage that eventually lead to the death of neurons.
Caution in setting
Announced Tuesday before the New York Stock Exchange opened, the news caused AC Immune’s share price to soar from $ 7 to nearly $ 12 before dropping back to just over 9. dollars. After having digested the announcement, the investors may have taken the measure of the obstacles that remain to be overcome: the second main evaluation criterion was notably not met, no impact on the functional deterioration of the patient’s condition. not having been noted.
This observation prompted Andrea Pfeifer, founder and director of AC Immune, to declare herself “cautious” in the press release which made these results public; especially since the 272 people included in the trials were followed over a period of 49 weeks, a short period of time for a chronic disease that progresses slowly.
Since the turn of the century, more than 500 clinical studies have been conducted to test drugs against a scourge that affects some 36 million people worldwide, according to the WHO. In 2019, Roche, for example, decided to abandon trials at an advanced stage on another monoclonal antibody from AC Immune, targeting the amyloid beta peptide, another characteristic protein of Alzheimer’s.
In June, US health authorities approved a treatment for the disease for the first time in twenty years. Developed in Switzerland, but bought by the American firm Biogen, the Aduhelm has yet to confirm its effectiveness in use.