A Critical Update on Alzheimer's Disease
A critical update on Alzheimer's disease... A story the mainstream media won't cover... A huge, free advantage for our subscribers...
In today's Friday Digest... something that's extremely important to millions of people...
What I (Porter) want to talk about is something that goes far beyond our regular, crass beat of money. I want to talk about Alzheimer's disease.
I first wrote about biotech firm Biogen (BIIB) and its new Alzheimer's drug last December. Today, I have an important update to our research on this important new drug.
Even if you have no interest in investing in a biotech company, I hope you'll read today's Digest. The fight against Alzheimer's is about a lot more than just money and investing.
Lately, it seems like medical technology is producing one incredible breakthrough after another...
One disease after another has been completely defeated, at least in some patients, like the incredible progress made against hepatitis C and HIV. Some of these new things even go beyond our traditional concepts of medicine and treatment. They seem more like science fiction, like the new CRISPR gene-editing technology.
However, some bitter disappointments persist in the midst of all of this progress. Investing in a cutting-edge drug discovery will never be safe or easy.
That's been especially true about efforts to develop an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Currently, we have no effective treatments. And virtually every drug-development program ever launched has ended in complete failure – usually catastrophically for investors.
Alzheimer's drug development has been a "widow maker" for scientists, drug-company executives, and investors for at least the past two decades.
As a result of this "history of ashes," investors and the press have been reluctant to recognize the progress that Biogen is making with its ongoing clinical trials of its monoclonal antibody, aducanumab.
That's one of the things that makes this situation so unusual. Even though this drug has proven to be an extremely effective treatment for removing the buildup of amyloid plaque in the brain (which is thought to lead to Alzheimer's disease)... and even though those patients receiving the drug have seen their Alzheimer's disease progression stop... this progress has received virtually no coverage in the mainstream media. In fact, many media outlets (like the New York Times) continue to report, falsely, that no drugs in development have ever been shown to work against Alzheimer's.
But you can see for yourself how effective this drug is by looking at the patients' brain scans in this Scientific American article that reviews the data originally published in the scientific journal Nature.
I know... even trying to understand what a 'monoclonal antibody' is requires a lot of concentration...
But don't let the big words and unfamiliar concepts dissuade you from understanding this new drug. Monoclonal antibodies are just like the antibodies your immune system makes – only they're made with advanced bioengineering technologies pioneered by biotech companies like Genentech. These antibodies can be designed to "latch on" to specific targets in patients. These new kinds of drugs have been important in the fight against cancer.
This particular monoclonal antibody is designed to latch on to amyloid plaque in your brain. It also alerts your immune system to attack the plaque.
The data show it's safe and it works...
Last year, I reviewed the two-year data from Biogen's ongoing clinical trial.
The trial proved that this new drug was safe and effective. It also showed that the response was dose-dependent. The more of the drug patients received, the better the result (less plaque). And it proved that removing the plaque stopped or greatly reduced the disease's progression (declines in mental acuity).
Our editors and researchers David Lashmet, Dr. David Eifrig, and John Engel have followed this drug's development closely...
Lashmet and Engel have traveled across the world over the past year to see Biogen's scientists present their findings. This morning, I got an update from John Engel, who is attending a major Alzheimer's drug development conference in Boston right now. The three-year data are out from Biogen's leading clinical trial. The data continue to confirm the drug's initial positive findings.
The big news from today, though, is the three-year data from [Biogen's] aducanumab trial.
After two years on the drug, patients on the highest 10 mg dose remained below levels of amyloid detection. The 6 mg and 3 mg doses continue to remove plaque. Patients in these cohorts haven't reached threshold levels below detection, yet. But based on the three-year trend line, the removal of plaque should eventually reach below threshold levels of detection.
Standardized tests of mental acuity also reveal a dose-dependent slowing of cognitive decline. However, even the highest 10 mg dose indicates progression, albeit a much slower progression.
What's the real impact of these results? Well, in a room full of the world's best Alzheimer's doctors, we can get a pretty accurate reading by simply watching the crowd. Usually, I like to see the amount of pictures taken during sessions. That's my best indicator. Since photos were strongly discouraged today, the best indicator was the applause. I sat in on a total of 16 sessions today. Biogen's three-year data on aducanumab produced, by far, the biggest response. It was a long, drawn out applause.
We've recommended Biogen in my Investment Advisory newsletter. And you'll find it in our Portfolio Solutions' The Total Portfolio, too. Normally, we don't reveal critical research like this outside of our research publications. Obviously, I can't know if an investment in Biogen will prove to be profitable or not. Likewise, even with these incredible data, there's no assurance that this new drug will be approved or even that its clinical trial will prove conclusive.
But these kinds of unambiguously positive results are unusual, especially in a disease like Alzheimer's that's been so incredibly difficult to treat.
And yesterday, that got hundreds of the world's best Alzheimer's doctors cheering at the leading conference in Boston.
If our roles were reversed, I'd want you to recognize how important this information is...
It is vital, not only to investors, but to everyone who worries about the risk of getting Alzheimer's or who is dealing with Alzheimer's today. That's why we've been covering this story in the Digest and at our conferences in addition to our subscription products.
This is one of the biggest and most important stories in medicine today. These trials won't end until 2019. And it seems as though the mainstream media aren't going to cover these breakthroughs until then.
We hope being ahead of the curve gives all of you a tremendous benefit.
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November 3, 2017