Is Lilly on the verge of an Alzheimer's turnaround?

Some early-stage success for Biogen ($BIIB) has inaugurated something of a second honeymoon for a class of investigational Alzheimer's disease treatments, and some investors believe Eli Lilly ($LLY), maker of a similar therapy, could be poised to reverse its bleak fortunes in the field.

The Indiana drugmaker has seen its shares rise more than 10% this week in the lead-up to Monday, when Lilly is expected to offer a peek at long-term results from a once-failed Alzheimer's therapy, Reuters reports.

The treatment, solanezumab, flamed out in two huge Phase III studies in 2012, failing to improve cognition and function compared to placebo. But, poring over the data, Lilly noted a positive effect on patients with mild forms of Alzheimer's, so the company extended the trials on those patients for another two years, gathering the data now set to see the light of day. Positive results in the open-label extension study would bode well for Lilly's ongoing, placebo-controlled Phase III trial on mild patients and, the thinking goes, inject new life into an antibody written off by many.

Lilly's comeback plans for solanezumab have long been known to investors, and the sudden surge of optimism is likely tied to results from a study conducted by another company altogether.

Biogen is at work on antibody that, like solanezumab, targets beta amyloid proteins, buildups in the brain believed by many to contribute to the disease's neurodegenerative effects. In Phase I results disclosed earlier this year, Biogen's treatment did what no candidate of its kind managed before by notching a statistically significant improvement in cognition, in the process spurring an industrywide re-evaluation of the potential for beta amyloid antibodies.

In the ensuing months, Roche ($RHHBY) has said it's exploring the idea of launching another Phase III trial for gantenerumab, a similar antibody that, like solanezumab, failed in its first go at late-stage development. The Swiss drugmaker is also considering Phase III studies for crenezumab, a beta amyloid antibody partnered with AC Immune that missed its primary goal in Phase II.

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