AC Immune co-founder Andrea Pfeifer is well aware of the horrors of scientific failure. Two weeks ago, the one that the Swiss Economic Forum voted “Women Entrepreneur” of the Year in 2021 opened at Time in a big interview, stating that she blamed the blow for a few days and then moved on.
Also read: Andrea Pfeifer, director of AC Immune: “It’s not possible to treat Alzheimer’s”
During the interview, the scientist did not hide her expectations in her study of crenezumab treatment in Colombia with Roche. Or more precisely with the Californian company Genentech, bought a decade ago by the Basel group. He announced on Thursday that tests started in 2013 on 252 patients had not resulted in a significant breakthrough.
In a stock market environment plagued by the muscular interventions of the US, British and Swiss central banks, the action of the Rhine multinational – which has many other innovations in its portfolio – has not been too abused. On the Nasdaq side, however, the AC Immune stock fell nearly 18%.
First failure in 2019
There is no doubt that the disappointment of Andrea Pfeifer and her 145 employees – all active in the EPFL Innovation Park – is not focused on this stock market punishment, but on this new door rather than Alzheimer’s disease. did not want to open the treatment targeting amyloid plaques. These are identified as one of the main causes of a plague affecting 50 million people worldwide.
In early 2019, the first big setback was wiped out by both partners. Roche and AC Immune had completed two clinical studies on crenezumab, failing to demonstrate its efficacy. On the Vaud biotech side, high expectations were therefore placed on the experiment conducted in South America, as patients were selected very early, with the specificity of having a genetic predisposition to the disease. Nine years of observation and the gradual intensification of the doses given to the treated cohort did not significantly stop the alteration of the affected cells.
Roche focuses on gantenerumab, another treatment that targets the same target, and will deliver results by the end of the year. AC Immune, for its part, intends to carefully analyze those in the Colombian study, believing that some data may be more interesting than expected. The company also follows other guidelines, all of which aim to cure the disease very early or prevent it with a vaccine. His action was already picking up colors on Friday.
As a reminder, only one treatment has so far received the green light from the FDA, the US Drug Authority. This is Aduhelm, a treatment developed by Biogen and Eisai. This remains controversial, criticized for the side effects it produces but also for its effectiveness, which is not yet fully certified.
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