Hopes for an Alzheimer's treatment were dashed when Baxter International Inc. released news that it would stop development and testing of a proposed Alzheimer's drug.

Before its discontinuance. the drug was in late stage Phase III clinical trials, which is often the last step before submission to the Food and Drug Administration for approval.

Baxter said that their Phase III GAP study showed the immunoglobulin (IG) treatment failed to reach the end goals of reducing cognitive decline and function in patients with Alzheimer's.

Baxter will now go through a process of reevaluating its Alzheimer's pipeline and analyze data from the failed trial to determine the next steps to take.

The IG treatment had shown promise in earlier, smaller scale clinical trials in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's symptoms. A full analysis of the study and its results is still ongoing with the hope that even this failed trial will help lead to an effective Alzheimer's treatment in the future.

"The study missed its primary endpoints, however we remain interested by the pre-specified sub-group analyses, particularly among patients with moderate disease and those who carry a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, two patient groups that are in great need of advances in care. A detailed analysis of the results from the GAP study continues, and we look forward to a greater understanding of the full data set," said Ludwig Hantson, Ph.D., president of Baxter's BioScience business.

"We are grateful for the participation of the patients and physicians in the study and for the dedicated support of the patients' caregivers."

Alzheimer's affects close to 5.1 million Americans, and with an increasingly aging U.S. population, the number is set to balloon in the years to come.