The progressive aging of the population in developed countries is turning Alzheimer into one of the biggest medical challenges of our times. And it looks like it is going to remain an unresolved problem for the moment, as Roche’s candidate failed its last clinical trial. The drug, developed in collaboration with German Evotec, didn’t meet the primary endpoint of its phase IIb.
The candidate, Sembragiline, belongs to a family of inhibitors of monoamine oxidase type B (MAO-B), which are typically used to treat Parkinson’s disease. The enzyme breaks down the chemical messenger dopamine in the brain and contributes to the production of free radicals. These free radicals cause oxidative stress and, subsequently, contribute to the pathogenesis of the Alzheimer disease. For these reasons, the selective MAO-B inhibitor is targeted to treat Alzheimer’ symptoms and potentially slow the disease’s progression.
However, and despite the preliminary analysis that showed the safety of the drug, Sembragiline failed to demonstrate any benefit on the primary endpoint after 52 weeks of treatment.