Two experimental drugs fail to halt Alzheimer’s disease

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Experimental drugs from Roche and Eli Lilly failed to halt Alzheimer’s disease in their latest test, the companies said, in a blow to people whose genes make them particularly vulnerable to the illness. Reuters Health reports that pursuit of an Alzheimer’s remedy, which would inevitably reap drugmakers billions of dollars, has been marked by more than 100 failures, although researchers still hope to tame a condition that affects more than 40m people worldwide, and which is growing more prevalent.

The study of Roche’s gantenerumab and Eli Lilly’s solanezumab spearheaded by Washington University in St Louis focused on rare autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease, which is caused by gene mutations that follow generations of families. Those afflicted often develop Alzheimer’s disease before the age of 60 and have a 50% chance of passing the mutation on. The report says by targeting this group, scientists had hoped the medicines would arrest their cognitive decline. Years after the trial began, however, they concluded the drugs were not working.

Roche’s CMO Levi Garraway said a pair of separate Roche studies of gantenerumab against a form of Alzheimer’s disease not directly caused by gene mutations would continue. It is due to produce results in 2022. Roche is also testing gantenerumab in humans as part of its work with a “brain shuttle” technology it hopes boosts penetration into the brain, where the drug is needed. Lilly said the study’s outcome will not impede its separate solanezumab study in asymptomatic Alzheimer’s disease.

The report says these failures mark just the latest disappointments with gantenerumab and solanezumab.

Full Reuters Health report

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