Experimental ALS drug fails in trial

WESTON, Mass. — An experimental drug for Lou Gehrig's disease made by Biogen Idec has failed in a late-stage clinical trial, the drug maker said Thursday.

Biogen announced results of its phase-3 trial of dexpramipexole in patients with the disease, known technically as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. The drug failed to improve functioning and survival in patients and failed to show efficacy in key secondary endpoints as well, the company said.

"We share the disappointment of members of the ALS community, who had hoped that dexpramipexole would offer a meaningful new treatment option," Biogen Idec EVP research and development Douglas Williams said. "Nevertheless, the 'EMPOWER' trial represents a significant contribution to ALS research, and Biogen Idec is committed to advancing ALS science. We continue to work with researchers around the world to understand the causes of ALS and find potential treatments for people with ALS."

ALS causes a loss of muscle strength and coordination that deteriorates and makes tasks such as climbing steps, getting out of a chair and swallowing impossible. It is often called Lou Gehrig's disease, after the baseball player who suffered from it; physicist Stephen Hawking also has the disease, which the National Institutes of Health estimates to affect five-in-100,000 people worldwide.


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