Merck moves Alzheimer's drug into big trial after safety review

Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:44am EST

Dec 10 (Reuters) - Merck & Co said it will advance its experimental Alzheimer's drug into late-stage trials among patients with mild to moderate disease, after an independent monitoring board reviewed its safety and recommended the trial continue to recruit patients.

The data monitoring committee gave its blessing to a far larger trial involving almost 2,000 patients after examining interim safety data from a mid-stage trial of 200 patients who had been treated with the medicine, called MK-8931, for at least three months, Merck said.

The medicine works by blocking an enzyme called BACE that is involved in the production of beta-amyloid, a protein that creates plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

BACE inhibition is considered the most promising new approach to slowing progression of Alzheimer's disease, after other efforts to directly block beta amyloid have failed or fallen short in trials conducted by Pfizer Inc, Eli Lilly and Co and other drugmakers.

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