IBJNews

Lilly finds solace in new Alzheimer's study

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Eli Lilly and Co. suffered a delay in its effort to bring an Alzheimer’s drug to market this month, but it also published new research that the pharmaceutical company thinks confirms it is on the right track.

Indianapolis-based Lilly announced on Dec. 12 that it will conduct another Phase 3 trial of the drug solanezumab to show that the drug slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. In October, scientists detailed clinical trial results that showed the drug moderately slowed the decline in mental abilities in patients with mild forms of the memory-sapping disease.

But a week before that announcement, the journal Neuron published a paper by a team of 13 Alzheimer’s researchers at Lilly, which they think proves the science behind solanezumab is sound.

That could be significant because Lilly, which is losing patent protection on its older neuroscience blockbusters Zyprexa and Cymbalta, has staked enormous resources on bringing an Alzheimer’s drug to market. If successful, it could reap billions of dollars per year in sales.

“We learned a lot from solanezumab and that was the key point for how we figured out how to attack this,” said Ron DeMattos, Lilly’s lead biologist on solanezumab and the lead author of the new study.

The Neuron study tested a new drug’s ability to reduce the buildup of plaques in the brain that are a key marker of Alzheimer’s disease and, according to some theories, the cause of its damage.

These plaques are formed by the clumping and tangling of chunks of a brain protein called amyloid-beta. It is produced in every person’s brain but reaches excess levels in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Removing amyloid or slowing its production are the goals of nearly all the experimental Alzheimer’s drugs being tested now by major pharmaceutical companies. Alzheimer’s disease is getting such attention because there is no effective treatment for it currently and the costs of caring for Alzheimer’s patients are estimated to be $180 billion per year in the United States alone.

Lilly’s scientists designed solanezumab to attach to free-floating pieces of amyloid and carry them out of the brain tissue into the spinal fluid or the bloodstream.

Solanezumab does not attach to amyloid plaques. But Lilly’s scientists reasoned that, as solanezumab reduced the levels of free-floating amyloid that hover around the amyloid plaques like a cloud, more of the amyloid pieces clumped up in plaques would be able to jump off and float away.

In its latest study, Lilly scientists designed a new drug, called mE8, that attaches only to amyloid plaques, but not to the free-floating pieces of amyloid surrounding the plaques.

Lilly’s drug, which is known as mE8, showed a better ability to remove plaque than the mouse version of a competing drug called bapineuzumab. That drug, which was developed by Ireland-based Elan Corp. and tested by New York-based Pfizer Inc. and New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson, failed in a Phase 3 clinical trial this summer. Human studies of the drug were discontinued.

DeMattos attributed the differences to the fact that bapineuzumab attaches to both free-floating amyloid and to amyloid plaques. Much of the drug appears to have become clustered with free-floating amyloid before it could ever reach amyloid plaques in most parts of the brain.

He also noted that Lilly’s drug mE8 showed no bleeding in the brain, called microhemorrhaging. The mouse version of bapineuzumab did show some bleeding in mice brains.

“We’re really enthusiastic about this approach,” DeMattos said, noting that a humanized version of mE8 drug would be the next Alzheimer’s drug Lilly moves into clinical trials. In addition to solanezumab, Lilly already has one other drug in human trials.

DeMattos said it is likely that Alzheimer’s will be successfully treated through a combination of drugs, rather than just one. However, he said Lilly would need to thoroughly study both solanezumab and mE8 separately before it considers whether they could be used as a combination therapy.

“This has become a very hot topic among the academic clinicians,” DeMattos said of a combination therapy. “Lilly is uniquely positioned in that we have an antibody that targets the soluble [amyloid] beta and we have an antibody that targets the plaques specifically.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

  2. Great news IRL fans: TURBO the IMS sanctioned movie about slugs running the Indy 500 has caught the Securities and Exchange Commission because Dreamworks had to take a $132MILLION write down...because the movie was such a flop. See, the Indy/IMS magic soiled another pair of drawers. Bwahahahahahaha! How's CARTOWN doing? HAHAHAHA...Indy is for losers.

  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

ADVERTISEMENT