After phase 3 failures, Lilly signs new Alzheimer’s drug pact with AstraZeneca

This marks the second Alzheimer's drug deal between AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly.

After dissecting its failed solanezumab failure at the CTAD meeting last night, Lilly is wasting no time moving on as it announces a new Alzheimer’s drug pact deal with partner AstraZeneca this morning.

Under the deal, Lilly will pay $30 million upfront to AZ to work on the amyloid drug together, known as MEDI1814, which is currently in phase 1 trials as “a potential disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,” the two Big Pharmas said in a statement.

The drug was originally developed through AZ's bologics arm MedImmune.

The pair are already working on another Alzheimer’s med, AZD3293, a BACE inhibitor that is further down the pathway in two pivotal phase 3 tests.

The new drug binds selectively to amyloid beta 42 (Aβ42), a form of amyloid beta that is believed to cause sticky plaques to build up in the brain.

So far, after a slew of late-stage failures, this amyloid target has not yielded a new drug for the disease, including Lilly’s solanezumab which failed last month after not hitting its primary endpoint.

Biogen has had more luck, with its drug showing in data also presented last night that it could help some early-stage patients with the disease in a phase 1 test, reawakening what appeared to be the death knell of amyloid after Lilly’s initial read-out last month.

It does however have a few more years of testing to complete, and there remain concerns over its safety in some patients.

Jan Lundberg, EVP of science and technology and president of Lilly Research Laboratories, said: "We are pleased to be expanding our alliance with AstraZeneca to further build our pipeline of potential medicines and diagnostic agents. AstraZeneca brings capabilities and expertise and most importantly shares our passion to bring new medicines to patients suffering from this debilitating illness."

Lilly partnered with AstraZeneca in 2014 on AZD3293, with Lilly assuming the lead on clinical development in the 50/50 deal. The deal for the AstraZeneca candidate came after Lilly had killed its own BACE program in Alzheimer’s due to liver toxicity issues.

"We are excited to build on an already productive collaboration with Lilly, which combines the expertise of our two companies, with a new program focused on the amyloid-beta pathway," added Mene Pangalos, EVP of the IMED Biotech Unit and Business Development at AstraZeneca.

"MEDI1814 has a unique mechanism among antibodies in clinical development and could provide a distinct approach to treating Alzheimer's disease."