Business briefs, Jan. 4

Jan. 03, 2013 @ 07:28 PM

Biogen Idec to stop ALS treatment development

WESTON, Mass. – Biogen Idec, the Massachusetts-based drug company that has operations in Research Triangle Park, announced Thursday that it will discontinue development of a Lou Gehrig’s disease treatment after it did not meet its primary endpoint in a late-phase clinical trial.

The company said the experimental treatment, dexpramipexole, did not meet its primary endpoint and did not show efficacy in key secondary endpoints. The Phase 3 trial was investigating the potential drug’s use in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a neurological disease that’s also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the disease attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles.

“We share the disappointment of members of the ALS community, who had hoped that dexpramipexole would offer a meaningful new treatment option,” said Douglas E. Williams, executive vice president of research and development at Biogen Idec, in a statement. “We continue to work with researchers around the world to understand the causes of ALS and find potential treatments for people with ALS,” he added.

Biogen Idec still has several ALS projects under way. The company recently entered into a research collaboration with Duke University and HudsonAlpha Institute to sequence the genomes of up to 1,000 people with ALS over the next five years.

The project is aimed to gain a deeper understanding about the fundamental genetic causes of the disease.

Duke and HudsonAlpha will work with researchers with expertise and experience with ALS and the genes associated with the disease, according to the release.

In addition, Biogen Idec has created a research consortium along with several academic research centers to identify new approaches to treatment.