Lilly starting next phase of Alzheimer’s trial

Eli Lilly and Co. plans to launch a second Phase 3 clinical trial of one of its experimental Alzheimer’s medicines.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker announced today that it hopes to test its gamma secretase inhibitor in 1,100 patients from 22 countries. Doctors will give the drug, known as LY450139, to patients over 21 months, adjusting the dosage up or down based on each patient’s perceived tolerance for the drug.

Lilly hopes that its drug delays the progression of Alzheimer’s, a memory-sapping disease that afflicts about 5.5 million Americans, most of them over age 65.

Gamma secretase is an enzyme that cuts a protein in the brain to produce a “sticky” protein called amyloid beta. Scientists theorize that the clumping of amyloid beta into plaques kills brain cells.

Many pharmaceutical companies are pursuing effective treatments for Alzheimer’s, for which there is no cure.

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