WSJ: Lilly Takes Alzheimer's Research Down New Path
Eli Lilly & Co. is taking its Alzheimer's disease research in a new direction, a move that deepens the drug maker's efforts to find tests and treatments for the memory-robbing disorder despite a costly setback last year.
Like its rivals, Lilly had focused on the sticky plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, but today it is also setting its sights on some twisted fibers that are considered another hallmark of the disease, company officials said. Lilly is in the early stages of probing several potential treatments targeting these neurofibrillary tangles of a protein called tau, and just bought the rights to two tests for measuring the tangles in the brain, the officials said.
"The most meaningful impact in Alzheimer's might involve targeting multiple pathways and using combinations of drugs," said Dan Skovronsky, Lilly's vice president of tailored therapeutics and CEO of its Avid Radiopharmaceuticals molecular imaging subsidiary..............
Lilly has been studying an agent that targets the sticky amyloid plaques that can be seen in Alzheimer's patients. After reporting last year that its Alzheimer's agent called solanezumab failed to work in two late-stage trials, the company decided, after seeing positive signs in patients with an earlier and milder form of the disease, to conduct a new trial testing the experimental drug in those patients.
In the wake of such setbacks attacking amyloid plaques, researchers are taking a fresh look at the tau protein and neurofibrillary tangles as targets for drug development, said Lon Schn
When I read this, I just can't get that Huey Lewis and the News song out of my head... I WANT A NEW DRUG!!!
I want a new drug
One that won't make me sick
One that won't make me crash my car
Or make me feel three feet thick
I want a new drug
One that won't hurt my head
One that won't make my mouth too dry
Or make my eyes too red
One that won't make me nervous
Wonderin' what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I'm with you
When I'm alone with you
In transgenic mouse models, PBT2 has been shown to reduce both amyloid burden and tau tangles. PBT2 appears to treat both of these pathologies, at least in the mouse models. Whether it will do so in humans remains to be seen, but the fact that it does so in mice should get people at least somewhat excited about the possibility that it might do so in humans as well. Now that brain imaging technology is reaching the point where tau tangles can be imaged, perhaps the next trial for PBT2 can include tau imaging as one of its metrics, along with amyloid imaging and various cognitive tests.
I remain cautious about PBT2 because Alzheimer's is a complicated diseases that's still only partially understood, and we don't have any idea how much there is about it that we don't yet understand. Maybe we're getting close to having a full understanding of it, or maybe we're decades away. There's always room for surprises. But I think there's a decent chance that metals dyshomeostasis could be a key factor, and that PBT2 could turn out to be a truly effective treatment, at least in certain stages of the disease.