Medtronic seeks pharma partners for Alzheimer's treatments

Medtronic ($MDT) believes its pump technology could pair well with the next generation of Alzheimer's treatments, and the company is on the hunt for pharmaceutical partners.

Lisa Shafer, Medtronic's director of CNS drug delivery, told Bloomberg that less than 1% of intravenous treatments can get past the blood-brain barrier on their own, but, if paired with the company's already-on-the-market pumps, Alzheimer's drugs could be delivered straight to the brain.

Medtronic has proof of concept for the potential pairing, and now it needs only to recruit partners, Shafer said.

The latest wave of Alzheimer's treatments target beta amyloid proteins in the brain. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Pfizer ($PFE) have teamed up on bapineuzumab, and Eli Lilly ($LLY) is developing the similarly targeted solanezumab. Both drugs endured recent Phase III failures, however, and Shafer says Medtronic's technology could help optimize the treatments.

"We're pushing into the fluid surrounding the brain, which bathes all the brain tissue, bypassing the blood-brain barrier," she told the news service. The company's method would require 10 to 100 times less medication than traditional administration.

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