The promise of a new drug that would have brought hope to Alzheimer’s patients has been put to an abrupt end. Eli Lilly had developed a new drug to treat dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. So, there was much anticipation for the drug as it had shown promise in early clinical trials. But the large-scale trial of the drug showed inconclusive evidence that the drug would significantly improve the situation of Alzheimer’s sufferers. The result is a disappointing setback in the fight against Alzheimer’s. But research continues into treatment for the illness that affects millions of people and their carers worldwide.
Eli Lilly Puts an End to Clinical Trial
The large-scale trial of the drug developed by Eli Lilly ended in failure. The Alzheimer’s patients in the trial did not show any significant improvement compared to those who were just taking a placebo. So, on Wednesday, US drug company Eli Lilly made the official announcement that they were discontinuing the trial. They said that the Phase 3 clinical trial of the new drug solanezumab did not go as planned.
“Patients treated with solanezumab did not experience a statistically significant slowing in cognitive decline compared to patients treated with placebo,”
said the company in a statement.
There are currently 47 million people in the world who live with dementia. In the future, that number is going to double every 20 years. By the year 2050 there will be 131 million people with dementia. The data is from the Alzheimer’s Disease International association. Out of all cases of dementia, the kind that is brought on by Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the cases.
Disappointing Results Could Open New Avenues for Research
The clinical trial for the new Alzheimer’s drug was dubbed EXPEDITION3 and began in 2013. It took place in several countries. Over 2,100 patients that had a diagnosis for mild dementia from Alzheimer’s participated in the trial.
In a statement, the chairman of Eli Lilly, CEO John C. Lechleiter said that the company was disappointed by the results. Also, the statement acknowledged that there were millions of people waiting for positive results from the new drug. Solanezumab had the potential to be a “disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.”
After the announcement, shares of the company dropped more than ten percent on the New York Stock Exchange.
Solanezumab is an anti-amyloid drug. The drug was going to reduce the build-up of amyloid plaques on the surface of the brain. Researchers believe that the build-up contributes to memory loss that is a result of Alzheimer’s disease. But the results of this clinical trial could mean that researchers are looking in the wrong direction. Professor Bryce Vissel is a Roth Fellow and Director of the Centre for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). He believes that the research into Alzheimer’s should be seeking new avenues.
“The failure of this trial is something that could be another step back for the amyloid theory. One could call it the beginning of a next generation of efforts for treatment for Alzheimer’s,”
said Professor Bryce Vissel.
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