Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has announced that solanezumab, a drug under trial, has not performed as had been hoped.

Lilly’s press release stated that patients treated with solanezumab did not experience a statistically significant slowing in cognitive decline compared to patients treated with placebo (p=.095), as measured by the ADAS-Cog14 (Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive subscale).

While the study results showed some improvement, the degree of change was small. There were no new safety signals identified in the study. Lilly has said that it will not seek to register solanezumab as a treatment of mild dementia due to Alzheimer's disease.

The company’s President, Dr John C Lechleiter commented, “The results of the solanezumab EXPEDITION3 trial were not what we had hoped for and we are disappointed for the millions of people waiting for a potential disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer's disease. We will evaluate the impact of these results on the development plans for solanezumab and our other Alzheimer's pipeline assets."

Dr Liz Coulthard, who leads the BRACE-supported ReMemBr Group, a leading clinical research team based in Bristol, said, “This is very disappointing. Again, there seems to be a hint that Alzheimer's is modifiable, but solanezumab does not appear to work well enough to recommend as a treatment. Fortunately, there are multiple other therapeutic approaches including BACE inhibitors* that will report in coming years. This is probably not the end for amyloid approaches as there are other types of amyloid that other drugs can target, for example, aducanumab targets aggregated amyloid and is currently being tested in a phase 3 clinical trial.”

* BACE inhibitors are intended to block the activity of an enzyme that is thought to contribute to the accumulation of amyloid plaques.

Photo: copyright martinphelps.com, provided by SW Dementia Brain Bank/Medical Research Council