Study data on experimental Alzheimer's drug look promising

Eli Lilly presents data on solanezumab at US conference

Data from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly suggests that its solanezumab drug could slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

In 2012, the company said independent analysis of pooled data from the EXPEDITION trials showed that solanezumab slowed cognitive decline by 34% in patients with mild forms of the disease.

New analysis of data from a trial extension now shows that patients who received solanezumab in the earlier phases of the disease were mentally ahead of those given the drug after two years on placebo.

The difference in cognition between early-start and delayed start groups remained 'statistically significant', said Eli Lilly.

The results were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2015 in Washington, DC, in the US.

'We are particularly excited about these data because this is the first time the delayed-start methodology has been implemented for an Alzheimer's disease clinical trial,' said Hong Liu-Seifert, study research advisor at Eli Lilly.

'This new analytical method enabled us to assess if solanezumab had an effect that is consistent with slowing progression of disease by modifying the underlying disease progression, which, up until now, has not been studied.'

The results have been met with cautious optimism. A new trial, due to report its findings towards the end of 2016, should provide further evidence of the benefits of the drug.

Solanezumab is Lilly's Phase III monoclonal antibody being studied as a potential therapy for patients with mild Alzheimer's disease. Solanezumab binds to soluble monomeric forms of amyloid-beta after it is produced, allowing it to be cleared before it clumps together to form beta-amyloid plaques. These beta amyloid plaques build up in the brain during Alzheimer's disease.

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