After PhIII flops, Alzheimer's R&D turns to prevention instead of cure

Now that three of the world's biggest drug developers--J&J ($JNJ), Pfizer ($PFE) and Eli Lilly ($LLY)--have failed to demonstrate the efficacy of their leading Alzheimer's drugs among afflicted patients in Phase III, investigators have started off on a lengthy journey to see if one of the therapies in the pipeline can save people before they succumb to this memory-wasting ailment.

In an article in Bloomberg, Elizabeth Lopatto takes a look at several studies now getting started which will use new diagnostic technology to identify patients likely to develop the disease. 

"The questions are how long do you treat, when do you start, and how do you measure effectiveness," Washington University's Randall Bateman tells Lopatto. "It took thousands of patients over many years to show statins have a benefit in heart disease. We're going as early in Alzheimer's as we practically can."

Several of the drugs to be studied are well known. There's Eli Lilly's solanezumab, which showed a flicker of efficacy among patients with a mild form of the disease, crenezumab--which Roche ($RHHBY) licensed from AC Immune--and gantenerumab, another Roche program now in a pivotal study.

Bloomberg also reports that Reisa Sperling at Harvard is prepping for a study--dubbed A4--of 1,000 early-stage patients who are already seeing beta amyloid start to build up in their brains, but before symptoms appear. Sperling has yet to pick a drug for this study, saying that she is reviewing a number of potential therapies for A4.

- here's the story from Bloomberg

Special Reports: The Alzheimer's pipeline: What's next? | The Top Phase III Disasters of 2012

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