Business World: Myriad Genetics, Flurizan (MPC-7869), and Alzheimer Disease
Largest-Ever Alzheimer's Drug Trial Begins
By PAUL ELIAS, AP Biotechnology Writer Sun Mar 12, 6:58 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO - It's tragedy enough that Pat Williams' mother has Alzheimer's disease. But Williams is also terrified because her chances of inheriting the disease are much better than average. So Williams eagerly enrolled her 90-year-old mother last year in a massive, 1,600-patient, 18-month clinical trial testing an experimental drug made by the biotechnology company Myriad Genetics Inc.
The drug, called Flurizan, slowed the mind-robbing disease in some of the 128 patients with mild Alzheimer's participating in a smaller test.
Based on those results, the company has gambled millions of research dollars on the largest-ever Alzheimer's drug trial. It aims to win an intense, international race among several biotech companies to find the first effective treatment to at least slow the disease's progression in the 4.5 million Americans who suffer from it.
Analysts predict the market for such a drug could reach $4 billion annually by 2013 and success for Myriad would lift the company's fortunes considerably. The Salt Lake City company is now best known for drilling deep into the Mormon community's detailed genetic history to develop a popular breast cancer test.
Myriad's Alzheimer's drug wasn't effective for patients with moderate forms of the disease, so the company is targeting patients who have just been diagnosed. Scientists are also using the latest in brain imaging and genetic technology to develop tests to find people like Williams who have above-average chances of coming down the disease.
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Anthony H. Risser | neuroscience | neuropsychology | brain |