Fierce Biotech has reported the past few days on Alzheimer's programs of several Big Pharma companies including Lilly and a group consisting of J&J/Pfizer/Elan. Alzheimer's remains a hot-bed of exploration for better therapies, as there really are no good choices. This is seen as a potential gold-mine for the first companies to come to market with any drug that has a measurable benefit in delaying key memory loss symptoms. Some analysts have predicted annual sales potentials of $5 B or more for such therapies.
Elan et al's bapineuzumab has shown promise (J&J has invested $1 B) in Phase II trials in targeting amyloid-plaques and in also lowering the level of the toxic tau protein. Both features are thought to be important although there is no well described mechanism of their involvement. Results of Phase II have been encouraging enough to push toward Phase III.
Similarly, Lilly's semagacestat and solanezumab drugs are also targetting amyloid plaques via different pathways. The company is no in the process of recruiting late stage trial participants - over 1000 patients for each study.
Again, the payoff for a successful Alzheimer's therapy is expected to be huge - so the race is on.
Posted by Bruce Lehr July 14th 2010.