Researchers for Pfizer ($PFE) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) have garnered avid interest in bapineuzumab, a late-stage therapeutic vaccine for Alzheimer's that has generated some intriguing animal data.
While no one really knows for certain what causes Alzheimer's, there's been plenty of finger-pointing at amyloid, an insoluble toxic protein that we know clusters in the brains of elderly victims. But then there's the possibility that soluble beta amyloid found floating in cerebrospinal fluid could cause serious damage long before it starts to gather in the brain.
Gene Kinney, who runs J&J's Alzheimer's research group at Janssen, says that they've recorded encouraging signs of improvement in mouse models designed to form plaque and later experience cognitive issues. Once treated with bapineuzumab--which failed a Phase II study in 2008--the rodents performed a simple task more effectively, suggesting that the therapy could be effective at a very early stage, preventing amyloid from binding with neurons.
"We can feel very comfortable that it is engaging both soluble and insoluble forms," Kinney told Reuters. "What it suggests is you've got an antibody approach that can interact with both forms of amyloid."