By Saumya Joseph

(Reuters) – Biogen Inc said on Friday it would discontinue the development of its experimental therapy for a rare brain disease after the treatment failed a mid-stage trial, the latest setback in attempts to develop a therapy for the disorder.

The therapy, gosuranemab, failed to hit statistical significance in its main goal and did not demonstrate effectiveness on key secondary goals when tested in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

PSP results in deterioration of cells in areas of the brain that control body movement and thinking, causing serious problems with walking, balance and eye movements. There are no therapies for treating the underlying cause of the disease.

Therapies for PSP remain elusive, with many candidates failing advanced development programs. Earlier this year, AbbVie Inc scrapped development of its anti-tau antibody for the condition.

The trial setback further underscores Biogen’s need for building out a pipeline of drugs other than aducanumab, its Alzheimer’s therapy, noted JP Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov.

Analysts said that market expectations for gosuranemab, also an anti-tau antibody, were very low given AbbVie’s trial failure and the focus still remained on approval of aducanumab.

Months after it had scrapped development for aducanumab, Biogen in a surprise move announced plans in October to pursue approval for the therapy, based on benefits seen in a fresh analysis of its trials. Analysts have forecast annual aducanumab sales of nearly $4 billion a year by 2024.

“The setback points to greater problems in developing viable pipeline assets,” Credit Suisse analyst Evan Seigerman said in a note.

“The story still remains focused on aducanumab given the massive opportunity that largely overshadows gosuranemab.”

Citing differences in disease pathology, Biogen said it will continue its ongoing mid-stage study of gosuranemab for mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease.

(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Rashmi Aich)