Jeff Borghoff was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease at age 51. Since his diagnosis, he has been an advocate for those with Alzheimer’s Disease, being a member of the Alzheimer’s Association National Early-Stage Advisory Group, and a participant in a clinical trial. He spent three years as a participant in the Biogen clinical trial, undergoing weekly infusions. In March 2019, his life was upended by the sudden announcement that Biogen had immediately canceled the trial. As Jeff described at the Rothkoff PA Elder Care Symposium last Thursday, he was devastated as he believed this was his last hope for a cure in the near future. However, Jeff now has a chance to return as a participant in the clinical trial.
In a shocking reversal, Biogen last week stated it would resurrect an Alzheimer’s drug that the company previously said had failed and will ask the Food and Drug Administration to approve it. The company said a “new analysis of a larger dataset” showed that the drug, aducanumab, reduced clinical decline in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease on multiple measures of the drug’s effectiveness. That directly contradicts a decision in March 2019 to halt studies of the therapy based on the recommendations of an independent monitoring board that was charged with protecting patients in the study.
The drug trial’s failure sent shock waves far beyond Biogen. It was thought to be the last of a series of drugs that targeted a protein in the brain called beta amyloid. After Biogen’s announcement in March, most researchers and biotechnology executives saw little hope for a drug that would help patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers will spend the next several months struggling with the contradictory drug trial results thus far. In the meantime, Biogen will make the drug available to patients who were previously enrolled in its clinical trials.