Merck Alzheimer’s Drug Advances to Late-Stage Trials

The drug, which is currently the industry’s best hope for treating Alzheimer’s, moves to big trials

Merck & Co. has announced that it will begin big, late-stage trials of its promising experimental drug for Alzheimer’s. According to Reuters, the drug is “one of the industry’s best hopes for slowing the memory-robbing disease.” An independent board assessed the drug’s safety, and suggested the drug be tested on more patients.

The drug, named MK-8931, will move to a Phase III trial that could involve up to 1,960 patients, according to Reuters. The new study is expected to conclude in 2017. In addition to studying the drug’s effects on current Alzheimer’s patients, the study will have trials involving 1,500 patients who do not yet have dementia.

The part of the study done on Alzheimer’s patients is to be called EPOCH, while the part of the study being done on patients who do not yet have the disease will be called APECS. Though not diagnosed with the disease, participants in APECS will have shown mild cognitive problems that could be markers for Alzheimer’s. This part of the study is designed to help researchers know whether or not it’s possible to prevent or slow down the onset of the disease.

MK-8931 is a BACE inhibitor that works by blocking an enzyme called beta secretase that is involved in the production of a protein that creates brain plaques thought to be a major cause of Alzheimer’s, according to Reuters.

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