Today, Arctic Aurora portfolio companies Biogen and BioArctic, together with their Japanese partner Eisai reported a successful Phase 3 trial, testing lecanemab in 1795 patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Lecanemab reduced cognitive and functional decline by 27% compared to placebo in a highly statistically significant manner, while meeting all key secondary endpoints as well. This is a historic moment for Alzheimer patients, as this is the first anti-amyloid drug that provides meaningful cognitive benefit. Meanwhile, lecanemab’s safety profile appears acceptable and there may be a case for the drug providing safer treatment compared to our drug candidates in late-stage development in Alzheimer’s.

The originator of lecanemab is a Swedish biotechnology company, BioArctic, which develops the drug with another Arctic Aurora portfolio company, Biogen, together with their Japanese partner, Eisai. At the time of writing, BioArctic’s share price is up 135% compared to yesterday’s close, Biogen is up approximately 50%, and Eisai ended the Tokyo trading day up 17%.

These results also increased market confidence  Eli Lilly and Roche, that also develop drugs with similar mechanism of action as lecanemab.

 

Globally, around 50 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, which means almost 6 million people in the US alone, which is expected to nearly triple by 2060 as the population ages. Moreover, 1 in 3 seniors is reported to die due to dementia in the US.

Due to these huge numbers, the devastating effects of this condition are known to many families. Symptoms usually start to appear after age 60 staring with mild memory loss, like forgetting where one placed certain items. As the disease progresses, memory loss disrupts daily life, elderly patients have difficulties with speaking and get confused about time and place. As a result, patients might not even recognize their home or their loved ones and have to be placed under constant supervision and care. This places a huge emotional and economic burden on the patients’ family. Care in Alzheimer’s was associated with a cost of USD 321 billion, which could reach an estimated USD 1 trillion by 2050, in the US alone.

The disease is thought to be caused by the accumulation of a protein, amyloid-beta, in the brain and multiple therapeutic attempts aimed to reduce amyloid-beta deposits and slow the disease have been made. Many of these attempts have failed in the past and although Biogen’s aducanumab was recently approved in the US, it could not provide conclusive cognitive benefit to patients in clinical trials. This makes lecanemab the first anti-amyloid antibody that provides meaningful cognitive benefit to Alzheimer’s patients.