Promising Alzheimer’s drug solanezumab fails late-stage trial, hitting dead end

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An investigational Alzheimer’s treatment from Eli Lilly failed to slow the progression of the memory-destroying disease in a late-stage trial, marking another setback in a field that has long bedeviled the drug industry.

The injected therapy, called solanezumab, didn’t meaningfully beat a placebo in a study on more than 2,100 patients with mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer’s, Lilly said. This marks the third time Lilly’s treatment has missed the mark in a late-stage trial, and the company has abandoned any plans to submit it for Food and Drug Administration approval.

The results “were not what we had hoped for, and we are disappointed for the millions of people waiting for a potential disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,” Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said in a statement.

Lilly’s failure could have a chilling effect on the entire field. Solanezumab is designed to sweep away plaques called beta-amyloids, which build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s.

With Lilly’s drug sidelined, Alzheimer’s researchers will turn their attention to Merck, which is expected to present data in June [2017] on a drug that takes an upstream approach to amyloid.

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