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Alzheimer’s Disease: New drug may be breakthrough science seeks

Phase three drug trials

The pharmaceutical company Eli Lily is set to announce the results of its most recent trials of Solanezumab at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington on Wednesday. If they are positive, and they are expected to be positive, it could herald a new era in treatment — for those diagnosed early.

The drug had been tested previously and the results were not encouraging. However, Eli Lily pored over the extensive data it obtained after initial tests and says that data indicated that those persons with early onset of dementia appeared to be helped by the drug.

Hence the company returning to testing Solanezumab and now presenting those phase three test results at the annual international Alzheimer’s Association conference.

Alzheimer’s and amyloid plaques

The drug is designed to work by attaching to toxic amyloid beta plaques in the brain, which attach themselves to neurons, preventing them from firing and causing Alzheimer’s. It is believed the results will show Solanezumab prevents this attachment, but only in those in early stages of the disease.

In the realm of speculation, Solanezumab may one day be used alongside a new method of early detection being developed by researchers at Northwester University in Illinois. A study released earlier this year details the use of noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect Alzheimer’s early in the illness’s progression.

If these Eli Lily trial results are favorable Solanezumab joins other therapies being developed to fight Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Other drugs being developed include Namzaric, which combines two existing medications, memantine hydrochloride and donepezil hydrochloride; studies show the two taken together improve cognition in Alzheimer’s patients.

And last November, a potential breakthrough was announced by Dr. Joy Yu of the U.S. biotechnology company Genentech Inc. Dr. Yu said her research team has found a way of attaching antibodies to transferrin, which takes iron into the brain. The antibodies are then able to prevent the build-up of amyloid plaque.

The results of Eli Lily’s trial on Solanezumab will be presented at the conference on Wednesday morning.

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