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We don’t yet have the technology to cure Alzheimer’s, health-care investor says

Ali Satvat, Jorge Conde, and Peter Orszag during a panel discussion at the CNBC Healthy Returns conference in New York on May 21, 2019.

Astrid Stawiarz | CNBC

Biotech companies don’t yet have the technology or understanding of Alzheimer’s to find a cure for the disease that plagues almost 5.8 million people in the U.S., Andreessen Horowitz general partner Jorge Conde said Tuesday at CNBC’s Healthy Returns conference in New York.

“One of the things we look for when we make investments, we talked earlier about binary risk, is when developing a new therapeutic, you have to understand what the disease is doing,” he said. “You have to understand what you need in it to affect the disease process, and then you have to have the capability to actually make that molecule or that cell or that gene.”

With Alzheimer’s “we don’t even really know the very first layer, so the probability that you’re going to find the right target and hit it is going to be unlikely, unless we can get that first level of understanding the disease,” he said.

Biogen recently joined a long list of companies in the last decade that have failed to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Earlier this year, it halted the clinical trial of Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab, which it was developing in partnership with Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive and debilitating disease that often affects a person’s memory, thinking and behavior.

Alzheimer’s is “very, very difficult to solve, and it’s going to require new technology to do it, and I just don’t think we have the technology,” Conde said.