Hunt for Alzheimer’s cure suffers ‘heavy blow’ as Pfizer pulls out of research

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The search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease suffered a ‘heavy blow’ after Pfizer, the world’s largest drugs company, announced it was halting research efforts into finding new treatments.

The US based company is expected to cut 300 jobs globally including many British researchers based at labs in Andover, Hampshire, and Cambridge.

It follows years of failed drugs trials for Alzheimer’s treatments which have cost the company dearly.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It’s disappointing to hear that Pfizer, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, will be terminating their research efforts in neuroscience, including Alzheimer’s disease drug discovery.

“This will come as a heavy blow to the estimated 46.8 million people currently living with the condition across the globe.”

However charities said there were still reasons to be hopeful that new treatments will found.

David Cameron committed Britain to finding a disease modifying treatment by 2025.

Pfizer will also stop looking for new treatments for Parkinson’s disease however the company said the restructuring would not affect research into drugs for rare neurological diseases.

“This was an exercise to reallocate spending across our portfolio, to focus on those areas where our pipeline, and our scientific expertise, is strongest,” said a spokesman for the company.

Dr Matthew Norton, Director of Policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said it was crucial for companies to continue to invest in new treatments.

“We must continue to encourage companies to invest in research in dementia and neuroscience.

“The UK is now a world leader in dementia research, and we hope that pharmaceutical companies will look at the long-term potential when deciding whether to participate in this effort.

“It is vital that all of us – charities, government and industry alike – make long-term commitments to dementia research if we are to bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

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