Bye bye Bapi

We were disappointed to read this yesterday:

Pfizer ($PFE) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) have nixed development of one of the most closely watched drugs in their pipelines, bapineuzumab, after two Phase III clinical trials for the experimental Alzheimer’s therapy ended in failure. The decision comes as no surprise as the program was given slim odds of success. But many are following bapi, one of the most advanced drugs for combating beta amyloid that builds up in the brain and is a suspected cause of the common memory-stealing disease.

With Alzheimer’s Disease, our collective understanding of the biology behind the disease remains quite poor. As a result, it remains a mystery how any single druggable target can have a significant impact on this complex disease. How can we tackle a disease we don’t really understand well?

Many of you may recall that the Phase II data that came out in ~2008 were encouraging, but not overwhelmingly so. Yet, with the unmet need being so strong, it seemed worthwhile to take the risk on an ambitious Phase III program. But, alas…

But there is still hope in Alzheimer’s, as a number of trials and mechanisms are still being explored. Even the notion of prevention is still actively pursued. Regardless, it still looks like we’re a long way from understanding and effectively treating this complex, growing disease.