A biotech founded by a 32-year-old just hit another setback -- and the stock got chopped in half

  • Axovant just failed a key trial for its dementia drug, leading the company to discontinue the program.
  • It’s the end of the line for intepirdine, which was acquired by Axovant for $US5 million from GlaxoSmithKline.
  • Axovant’s stock was down as much as 49% on Monday.

The search for new treatments for neurologic conditions just hit another setback.

Axovant, a company founded by 32-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy, said on Monday that its lead drug intepirdine failed a later-stage trial that explored how the drug worked in dementia with Lewy bodies, a neurodegenerative disease with symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. The drug had previously failed a key Alzheimer’s trial in September.

Axovant’s stock was down as much as 49% on Monday morning.

As such, Axovant will be terminating its intepirdine program.

“We can’t justify it,” Axovant CEO David Hung told Business Insider on Monday. Instead, Axovant plans to focus on other drugs including nelotanserin, another drug being explored to treat dementia with Lewy bodies. The drug had positive results in a small pilot study, the company said on Monday.

Currently, there are no approved treatments for dementia with Lewy bodies, and there hasn’t been a new drug approved to treat Alzheimer’s in 15 years.

It’s been a tough week for neuroscience drug development. Pfizer said that it will be cutting 300 jobs as part of its closing of its neuroscience research and development program. That impacts the work the company was doing in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

But Hung said the plan is to keep at it.

“Just because a field is difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on it,” Hung said. “We are firmly committed to try to do what we can for those who clearly desperately need it.”

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