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Eli Lilly’s Solanezumab A Disaster, Alzheimer's Drug Yielded No Clinically Significant Results

Update Date: Nov 24, 2016 09:44 AM EST

Failing more than 2,100 patient studies in Phase III clinical trials, Solanezumab will not be approved by U.S. Solanezumab is one of the first few treatments designed to address Alzheimer's root cause. The drug would have been the first disease-modifying treatment that will not just alleviate symptoms but slow down the disease process as well.

Since it was developed in 2006, Alzheimer's drug Solanezumab is supposedly designed to stick to the free-floating forms of the protein amyloid, which shape up into damaging plaques in the brain. Dr. Eric Siemers, Medical Director of the Alzheimer's disease Team at Eli Lilly had hoped that their agent, an amyloid antibody, would soak up enough of the circulating amyloid so that there weren't enough fragments around to aggregate into the toxic plaques.

By increasing the rate of clearance of amyloid with Solanezumab, we are making the brain younger in a sense, said Siemers in a TIME interview previously. The two previous studies on Solanezumab involved people with either mild or moderate Alzheimer's failed. Researchers have learned that amyloid build-up could begin for years before the first indications of memory and cognitive problems start. The fact that the experiment did not show benefit even among people with mild Alzheimer's does not mean the end of anti-amyloid methods. It could only show that the drug treatment wasn't started early enough in the disease to make a difference.

Retiring Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter told CNBC on Wednesday that Solanezumab's failure is a defeat for Alzheimer's sufferers. At the moment, however, they have other possible treatments for the disease currently in the works. Pharmacology analysts had anticipated that if Solanezumab was a feat, the drug would have led to more than $5 billion in annual sales for the drug company. The drug is a great boost in the company's earnings in the years to come.

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