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Eli Lilly's solanezumab fails at Phase 2/3 in early-onset Alzheimer's disease

Published on 11/02/20 at 12:33pm

In another blow to Alzheimer’s research, it has emerged that a study investigating Eli Lilly’s solanezumab in the treatment of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease failed to meet its primary endpoint.

The news follows Roche and Genentech’s announcement that their therapy gantenerumab also failed in a separate trial in the same indication: autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s, a hereditary, early-onset form of the disease which accounts for less than 1% of all cases. The condition leads to impaired memory and cognitive skills in a patient’s 40s and 50s, but sometimes as early as in their 30s.

Lilly’s drug was found wanting compared to placebo in this indication after 36 participants received the drug for a minimum of four years but recorded unsatisfactory scores as measured by the DIAN Multivariate Cognitive Endpoint, which is used to determine cognitive performance in autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease.

Regardless of whether the disease is late- or early-onset, Alzheimer’s can take root in patients up to two decades before symptoms manifest, beginning with the accumulation of the protein amyloid beta into plaques in the brain.  

"We are grateful to the courageous participants, their families, and clinical investigators for their dedication and commitment to the study," remarked Dr Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly's Chief Scientific Officer and President of Lilly Research Labs. "These results reflect the difficult nature of treating Alzheimer's disease and the great need for continued research. If we have learned one thing after more than 30 years of Alzheimer's research, it is that even negative results propel the science forward."

Matt Fellows

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