Bitter disappointment over Alzheimer’s drug

A drug which had been hailed as a potential breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease has failed to perform in final trials.


Sufferers and families have been left bitterly disappointed after it was announced during 2015 that the drug solanezumab seemed to slow the memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s as well as helping those with mild forms of the condition to retain thinking skills.

It was widely reported as being the first ever drug to show a significant effect. However, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has now announced that no benefits were shown during a trial which lasted 18 months and and involved more than 2,100 people.

The firm will now not be going ahead with seeking regulatory approval for the drug. Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes said that there had been “high hopes” for the medication.

He added: “It’s extremely disappointing to learn that it hasn’t delivered a meaningful change for people living with dementia, when the need is clearly so great.”

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It’s very disappointing that solanezumab has not shown benefit for people with mild Alzheimer’s and will no doubt trigger important debate within the research community.

The condition is caused when sticky amyloid plaques form in the brain preventing neurons from communicating with each other. Solanezumab is an antibody which binds to amyloid, allowing it to be cleared by the body.

At first, it was developed for sufferers of late-stage dementia, but was not found to work. However, it was then thought that it would have a positive impact on those with mild symptoms, but the results in larger trials proved disappointing.

It is a huge setback for research into the disease as the drug was the first to ever reach phase 3 trials, and was being hailed as a ground-breaking treatment.