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Large Drug Trial for Alzheimer’s Cancelled due to Ineffectiveness

Update Date: May 08, 2013 03:09 PM EDT

Baxter International Inc. announced that it plans to halt the drug trial for Gammagard, a medicine used for blood clots. Gammagard is currently still safe to use for people with blood disorders despite the ineffectiveness of this drug for Alzheimer's patients. The drug trial study researchers, headed by Dr. Norman Relkin, the head of a memory disorder program at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medication Center, stated that Gammagard did not help them accomplish their goals in finding a better treatment for people with Alzheimer's.

Gammagard, which is an immune globulin, was theorized to be able to help stabilize the condition. Gammagard is made from the natural antibodies that were culled from donated blood samples. The antibodies in this drug were expected to help remove amyloid, which is a plaque like substance that clogs the brains and impairs memory and other cognitive functions. In the past, Gammagard proved to be effective in four people, who received a high dosage of the drug for three years. The trial, however, concluded that the drug might not be effective for the majority of the people afflicted with the condition.

The trial included 390 people who were diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. The group was spilt into two separate ones, with one group receiving the placebo while the other went through 18 months of drug infusions. After a year and a half, the drug did not help stabilize the disease. The researchers reported that five percent of the participants developed a small rash and 17 people in total had serious reactions. 12 of those people were from the drug group, while five of them were from the placebo group

"The study missed its primary endpoints, however we remain interested by the prespecified sub-group analyses [n groups that seemed to benefit]," Ludwig Hantson, president of Baxter's BioScience business, said in a statement. The drug was effective in an extremely small amount of people that received a high dosage of the drug. Since the drug did not help the majority of the people in the study, the trial was halted.

Dementia affects 35 million people globally with Alzheimer's disease being the most common from. Alzheimer's disease afflicts five million people within the United States.

The results will be presented at the Alzheimer's conference in Boston, MA in July. 

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