Alzheimer’s Drugs to be Compared Side by Side in New Trials

  • Researchers leading the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer's Network (DIAN) recently announced that two pharmaceutical companies have agreed to donate investigational drugs to use in side by side trials. The trials will concentrate on people who appear to be destined by genetics to develop early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The companies have agreed to at least partially fund a five-year therapy trial, as well. 


    One of the drugs, solanezumab, was part of late-stage Alzheimer’s drug trials that took place in September. Solanezumab did not meet the primary endpoints, both cognitive and functional, in either of the two Phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on the drug. However, Eli Lily, the maker of solanezumab, maintained that “a pre-specified secondary analysis of pooled data across both trials showed statistically significant slowing of cognitive decline in the overall study population of patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.”

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    A recent story on the Alzheimer’s Research Forum announced the unprecedented step of running this comparative trial. The story also explained how these drugs work:


    “One of the therapeutics is a small molecule designed to reduce amyloid beta production by blocking the enzyme BACE-1; two are monoclonal antibodies. One of those antibodies, solanezumab, recently evoked a small benefit in people with mild Alzheimer's in a large clinical trial. The other one, gantenerumab, is currently in a separate phase 2/3 trial in prodromal AD, the earliest form of disease that is being diagnosed these days.”


    According to the article, these DIAN trials will begin with people at much earlier stages of disease, where researchers hope all anti-amyloid drugs will be more effective. The article states that, “All these trials rely on biological markers to ensure trial participants actually have amyloid pathology.”


    The willingness to test the drugs comparatively, and to fund these trials, is encouraging. These companies want to make years of investment in developing their drugs pay off, so if they feel the drugs have merit, this should be a wise way to maintain testing. We can hope that at least one of the drugs will take us forward in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. If not, then we will have learned more about anti-amyloid drugs, as there is knowledge gained in every trial, whether the results are positive or negative.


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    Alzheimer’s Research Forum (2012, October 16) Alzheimer's Disease Prevention Trials Just Made a Leap Forward. Retrieved from


Published On: October 25, 2012