BioWorld International Correspondent

SYDNEY, Australia The share price of Prana Biotechnology Ltd. in Melbourne nearly doubled before falling back, after the company announced at an international conference a successful Phase II trial of a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Colin Masters, chairman of Prana’s scientific advisory board, announced the interim results of the trial on 36 patients at the recent seventh International Geneva/Springfield Symposium on Advances in Alzheimer’s Therapy, in Geneva.

He said that one major finding of the study is that the Alzheimer’s amyloid protein, which is the target of the activity of the drug known as PBT-1, was significantly reduced in the blood of treated patients (18 of the 36 involved), compared to an increase observed in the placebo group.

Another major finding is that the treatment slowed the progression of the disease in the more significantly affected patients, in whom the rate of cognitive deterioration was measured by the ADAS-Cog assessment scale.

“These results are extremely encouraging as a proof of concept of the amyloid theory of Alzheimer’s disease,” Masters said.

The full results are not yet available.

Prana Managing Director Geoffrey Kempler said the results are being prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and will be released as soon as they are published.

He told BioWorld International that no decisions have been made yet about future trials, including whether there would be another Phase II or if the company would proceed to Phase III.

“We’ll announce it as soon as we know. We’ve always passed on all the information we have to the market as quickly as possible,” he said.

The amyloid theory, accepted by most researchers in the field, is that the cause of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of plaques of the beta-amyloid protein within the brain. However, there has been no agreement on what causes the accumulation of the protein or how the amyloid causes the loss of brain function that leads to memory loss and dementia.

After the announcement, Prana’s share price shot from A$1.44 (US$0.76) to $2.78 but has been falling ever since. On Friday the share price fell A$0.07 to A$1.95.

The company is also involved in a major patent dispute with the Greek pharmaceutical company PN Gerolymatos SA over the molecule PBT-1. Prana has started legal proceedings in the U.S. to overturn a patent granted to Gerolymatos. In January it was revealed that the Greek company was suing Prana for US$135 million.