The study is interesting because PiB imaging is a non-invasive way for researchers to measure the amount of amyloid in the brain, and it did show that the treatment reduced amyloid.
But it’s hard to say whether this means bapineuzumab might actually treat dementia. A previous Phase II clinical trial of the potential drug in 234 patients did not show a difference between those receiving treatment and those receiving a placebo, perhaps because of issues with trial design. We’ll have to wait a couple of years for the results of the Phase III trial to see whether bapineuzumab can improve memory and thinking.
If the drug reduces amyloid in the brain, but doesn’t affect symptoms, we’re bound to hear a lot of questions about the strategy of reducing amyloid to prevent or treat dementia.
Note: Elan has sold the rights to bapineuzumab to Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy, but now owns part of that company.