Moving on past sola wreckage, Lilly doubles down on one more Alzheimer’s drug from AstraZeneca

Jan Lundberg, Lilly

Jan Lundberg, Lilly

Eli Lilly may be down today as a result of the final readout of the numbers on solanezumab. But it’s not out.

The pharma giant said today that it is partnering with AstraZeneca on a new amyloid beta treatment for Alzheimer’s dubbed MEDI1814. That drug targets amyloid beta 42, a complementary approach to their program for the BACE drug AZD3293, which Lilly took direct control of as AstraZeneca continued its slow and steady exit from the CNS field.

Another antibody, MEDI1814 will continue to test the amyloid theory that Alzheimer’s is triggered by the clusters of toxic protein often found in the brains of patients. The BACE approach moves upstream, looking to rein in the production of amyloid beta.

The deal to partner on this drug was announced with amazingly few details — even for a pair of pharma giants generally reluctant to spell out the numbers. Lilly is paying $30 million in cash to buy in, a modest amount, but there’s no word on milestones.

AstraZeneca was once a major figure in Alzheimer’s and neuroscience. But under Pascal Soriot the company slashed that division down to a virtual outfit, iMed, and recently began to cut that down as well. AstraZeneca has been eager to sell what it no longer wants to develop as the company squares off against the growing impact of generic competition, which is biting into its revenue.

Lilly R&D chief Jan Lundberg had this to say:

At Lilly, we recognize the significant burden Alzheimer’s disease places on patients, caregivers and our society and we remain committed to finding ways to change the course of the disease. We are pleased to be expanding our alliance with AstraZeneca to further build our pipeline of potential medicines and diagnostic agents.

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