A Purdue University startup is developing drugs that could reduce a neurotoxin believed to play a part in multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain and Parkinson’s disease. Neuro Vigor LLC formed last year, based on the research of Riyi Shi, a Purdue professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering. The company is now trying to raise money to help it prepare for and conduct human trials of one of its drugs. Its drugs are designed to reduce the level of acrolein in patients’ brains. "Our preclinical research has shown by lowering acrolein we could much reduce the symptoms and pain of neurological diseases and injuries,” Shi said in a statement. He co-founded Neuro Vigor along with Mark Van Fleet, a senior executive with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and David Giddings, the former president of Boehringer Mannheim Corp.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Dow AgroSciences LLC’s Enlist corn and soybean traits in the United States. Indianapolis-based Dow Agro now awaits action by the Environmental Protection Agency to register the companion herbicide to the Enlist traits, which is a new version of the 2,4-D weed killer that's been around since the 1940s. The EPA has said it will rule this fall on Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences' application to market the chemical. After the EPA acts, Dow Agro said, it will update its plans to bring Enlist to market in 2015. The agriculture industry has been anxiously awaiting the approvals, as many weeds have become resistant to glyphosate, a herbicide commonly used on corn and soybeans now. Dow Agro, which is a subsidiary of Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co., also formed a strategic research and development alliance last week with Greenfield-based Elanco Animal Health. The two companies will work to develop products that enable livestock producers to increase meat and milk production. Elanco, a subsidiary of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co., was a co-founder of Dow Agro in 1989 but sold its stake to Dow Chemical in 1997.
Eli Lilly and Co. agreed to pay AstraZeneca plc as much as $500 million to jointly develop an experimental oral drug for Alzheimer’s, according to Bloomberg News. The two companies will work together to develop AZD3293, which belongs to a class of drugs called BACE inhibitors that block production of amyloid, a protein that causes plaque to build up in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. The two companies will work to begin studies in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease. Lilly will lead clinical development while AstraZeneca will be responsible for manufacturing. London-based AstraZeneca will receive the first milestone payment of $50 million in the first half of 2015 and the companies will share equally all future costs and potential global revenue. Indianapolis-based Lilly had been developing its own BACE inhibitor, but it failed in clinical testing because of safety issues. The only drugs approved for Alzheimer’s merely ease symptoms for a few months while the debilitating brain disease progresses. Still, they generate more than $5 billion annually.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new injectable diabetes drug from Eli Lilly and Co. for adults with Type 2 diabetes, according to Bloomberg News. The drug, Trulicity, is part of a new class of medicines called GLP-1 agonists, which spur the pancreas to create extra insulin after meals. Indianapolis-based Lilly is counting on new drugs like Trulicity to replace falling revenue from blockbusters like the antidepressant Cymbalta, which is facing cheaper generic competition after the expiration of its patent. Analysts predict the drug could eventually bring in $700 million to as much as $1.3 billion annually in revenue. The drug will bear a boxed warning — the most serious type — highlighting that rats tested with Trulicity had cases of thyroid cancer, though it's unclear whether they were caused by the drug. Lilly will be required to conduct follow-up studies on cases of thyroid cancer, heart problems and other potential safety issues with the drug.