Navidea moves forward in race for next-gen Alzheimer's imaging

Navidea ($NAVB) is developing a new imaging agent to detect Alzheimer's disease, and the company is touting a positive head-to-head study against the current standard for PET imaging for the ailment.

The firm unveiled data for its amyloid imaging candidate, AZD4694, finding that its agent demonstrated "strong similarity" to industry-standard C-PiB. Christopher Rowe, director of the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Centre for PET at Australia's Austin Health, said Navidea's agent has the potential to bolster research and diagnosis for the disease.

"As a second-generation beta amyloid tracer for PET scans, F-AZD4694 combines the best features of the two current types of imaging agents--the convenience of a fluorine-18 label, and favorable sensitivity, selectivity and decreased white-matter binding which offers improved image clarity," Rowe said in a statement.

Next, Navidea plans to start Phase II trial enrollment in the coming months, with an eye on launching Phase III studies in 2013, the company said.

However, the Navidea is hardly alone in the race to get a next-gen Alzheimer's imaging agent on the market. GE Healthcare ($GE) is developing flutemetamol, reporting positive early results from Phase III trials back in April and partnering with the Australian government last month to research the agent. Eli Lilly ($LLY) has been trying to get its Dx agent, Amyvid, on the market as an Alzheimer's imaging tool. Instead, the company got an FDA nod in April that approves Amyvid for use identifying brain plaque--related to Alzheimer's, yes, but not what the company was after.

- here's Navidea's statement