Alzheimer's investigators pick Lilly's sola in big prevention study

Eli Lilly's ($LLY) solanezumab has secured an endorsement from Alzheimer's researchers, who will study the experimental drug as a preventive therapy against the memory-robbing disease in patients before symptoms emerge.

Lilly last year revealed that it would revive its own efforts to develop the amyloid drug, which failed in a pair of Phase III studies last year despite showing signs of efficacy in patients with mild disease. Now the drug has a new lease on life with the help of the so-called A4 study, which has won funding from the NIH's National Institute on Aging.   

The going theory is that drugs that clear amyloid--a hallmark of Alzheimer's--don't work once the disease advances. In the new study, investigators want to give sola another shot. The study aims to focus on slowing memory decline by 30%, targeting patients between ages 70 and 85 with early markers for the disease but no symptoms, Reuters reported. Led by Dr. Reisa Sperling from Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, the 1,000-patient study is expected to take years and yield final results in 2018.

New treatments can't come fast enough for the more than 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which health officials and policymakers have flagged as a costly threat to the aging U.S. population. Offering very little help, Big Pharma's gambles on amyloid-blocking drugs have ended in big losses, including Pfizer ($PFE) and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) failed Phase III trials for "bapi" last year. But Roche's ($RHHBY) Genentech, Lilly and others are banking on drugs to succeed as preventive therapies.

We'll see how these players fare with their bold bets, but apparently not for 5 years or so as far as the A4 study is concerned.

- here is BWH's release
- see the Reuters article

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