The Alzheimer’s disease research field has taken yet another hit with the failure of MSD;s verubecestat in a late-stage trial.

MSD confirmed that it will discontinue the Phase III APECS study, assessing the investigational BACE1 inhibitor in people with prodromal Alzheimer’s disease (AD), on the recommendation of an external Data Monitoring Committee.

The Committee concluded that it was unlikely that positive benefit/risk could be established if the trial continued.

The move comes one year after the company pulled the plug on the Phase II/III EPOCH trial testing the investigational drug in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

At the time, the Committee determined that there was "virtually no chance of finding a positive clinical effect" the study, but recommended that the APECS trial continue as planned.

“We are disappointed with this outcome, especially given the lack of treatment options for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease,” said Roger M. Perlmutter, president, MSD Research Laboratories.

But he stressed that despite the outcome, the firm “remains committed to developing novel therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.”