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Amgen, Novartis Launch Alzheimer’s Drug Trial

Amgen Inc. and Swiss biopharma Novartis have launched a second clinical trial for their co-developed drug to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in high-risk patients who are not yet showing symptoms. This time around, the firms will be assessing its effects in a broader population. The “Generation 2” study, announced Nov. 2, will examine whether a drug called CNP520 can stave off the development of a protein called amyloid beta in a group of patients genetically predisposed to the condition. Amyloid beta is known to accumulate in the brains of those who develop Alzheimer’s disease; research indicates a relationship between the amount of the protein in brain tissue and the severity of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, which include memory loss and progressive cognitive dysfunction that eventually leads to death. Alzheimer’s disease afflicts an estimated 5.5 million people in the U.S. alone, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The compound annual growth rate of the market for drugs that treat the symptoms of the disease is estimated to be 7.5 percent between 2017 and 2025, at which point its value will be around $6.4 billion, research firm Transparency Market Research wrote in a recent report. A therapy that could stop the disease before it begins would be “a discovery of Nobel proportions,” Newsweek writer Elie Dolgin wrote in February. While the prospect of preventing Alzheimer’s disease by targeting amyloid beta has prompted pharmaceutical companies to funnel significant resources into developing products designed to reduce or prevent the protein from aggregating in the brain, none so far have managed to create a biotherapeutic that works. Once-promising anti-amyloid beta drugs from pharma giants Eli Lilly and Co., Pfizer Inc. and Baxter International all floundered in clinical trials, disappointing thousands of high-risk patients who had hoped to benefit from them. For Amgen and Novartis, the key to knowing the scope of CNP520’s effectiveness is to cast a wide net. To that end, Generation Study 2 examines the drug both in patients who have inherited two copies of a high-risk gene as well those with only one. The study – which is being conducted in partnership with nonprofit hospital system Banner Health’s Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix – began recruiting participants in August. Over the course of its five-year run, the study will involve around 2,000 patients. Breastlink in Tarzana Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Tarzana and outpatient radiology center operator RadNet Inc. have partnered to launch the first BreastLink center in the San Fernando Valley. RadNet held an open house on Sept. 28 to celebrate the occasion, with more than 150 guests in attendance. BreastLink offers “a true multidisciplinary approach to treating breast disease and breast health,” Norman Hanes, chief operating officer of RadNet, explained. The facility, located on the second floor of the hospital’s women’s imaging center, offers a range of services for cancer and other breast diseases, from routine mammograms to consultations with reconstructive surgeons. “They can work you up and give you answers and plans by the end of the day,” Hanes said. Imaging is provided through RadNet, while Cedars-Sinai supplies doctors. The joint venture was a natural fit given each partners’ specialties, Hanes said. High Desert Expo As many as 6,000 seniors turned out for free health screenings, flu shots and wellness demonstrations on Oct. 19 at High Desert Medical Group’s Senior Expo in Lancaster. Bone density tests, blood pressure readings, cholesterol panels, dermatology assessments and flu shots were available, along with screenings for stroke risk and pulmonary function. A barber, hand spa and cooking demonstrations also took place, as well as a fashion show and a performance by Circus Vargas. Harry Ward won the Senior of the Year award, while Rita Moreno, the only Hispanic performer to date to win a Tony, an Emmy, a Grammy and an Oscar, made a special appearance at the expo. Staff Reporter Helen Floersh can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or hfloersh@sfvbj.com.

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