Eli Lilly and Company began the search for an Alzheimer's cure in 1988 and has been building on Dr. Alois Alzheimer's legacy for the nearly three decades since. While they had hoped to release data on the first disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer's this year, Lilly announced at the end of November 2016 that their investigational medicine solanezumab did not succeed in the last stage of clinical testing for mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s.
Ninety-nine percent of molecules developed in the lab never make it to market - a fact all too real for pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and the National Institutes of Health. In the case of Alzheimer's specifically, 123 attempts were made to bring a medicine to market from 1998 to 2014. But to date, just five medications have been found to be effective and approved by the FDA to treat symptoms of the disease. There are still no medicines to treat the underlying cause of Alzheimer's.
Lilly is committed to changing that, regardless of setbacks. And whether a success or failure, clinical trials are the foundation for progress. Clinical research volunteers - they and their families' sacrifice to better the lives of others - are essential to this progress. They help move science forward. Lilly's Expedition3 trial for solanezumab involved more than 2,000 participants and countless caregivers across the globe.
While there remains no way to slow, cure, or prevent the disease that robs people of their memories, relationships, and lives, the fight continues: Lilly has molecules in various stages of development, including seven investigational compounds to potentially treat Alzheimer’s and two diagnostic tools. The company has vowed to continue their work to honor the contributions of trial participants around the world and because millions of patients-in-waiting and future generations are depending on a way to change the trajectory of this devastating disease.