Monday, July 9, 2018

Is the End Near?

I’ve always been fascinated with the universe. When I look at the moon and stars at night, it makes me realize what a small speck I am on the landscape of this world.

Throughout my life, I’ve heard different people proclaim that our world was coming to an end. The most recent deadline was April 2018. Well, unless something happened that I wasn’t aware of, we are still here.

When I was a kid, sometimes I attended a church that believed the end was imminent. The preacher would actually pray for the world to be destroyed and for the rapture to begin. I could not throw myself into that prayer wholeheartedly, and I was always happy to walk outside and see that nothing drastic had happened.

But there is one end that I could support unequivocally—the end of Alzheimer’s. Exciting news from the world of research indicates that scientists have finally made an important breakthrough.

Biogen and Eisai announced that the drug BAN2401 just finished phase 2 and that the drug demonstrated slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s. The positive results were after an 18- month period. This is another drug that targets amyloid beta proteins. Some researchers had begun to question the amyloid beta approach because of the massive failures. In fact, Biogen was disappointed in the 12-month data and considered abandoning the research. Now, they are looking at a phase 3 study. The predictions are 50% that BAN2401 will be approved.

This is extremely good news following Pfizer’s announcement that they would abandon development of an Alzheimer’s drug. Research costs are astronomical and failure is the norm Thus far, the quest for an effective drug for Alzheimer’s has resulted in a 99.6% failure rate. The FDA has not approved an Alzheimer’s drug in over a decade.

The Alzheimer’s drugs on the market today treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and can improve quality of life for some people with dementia. What they don’t do is slow the progression of the disease.

A treatment that slowed the progression or delayed the onset of the disease would result in big savings for families and the government. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, if a treatment is found by 2025 that would delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years, it would save $220 billion in the first five years. By 2050, families would save $87 billion and America $367 billion. By changing the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease, we would save lives and dollars.

The question remains—is the end near? Will BAN2401 be the success story we’ve been waiting for? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we can all pray fervently that the end of Alzheimer’s is near.

Copyright © July 2018 by L.S. Fisher

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