After working almost three decades on the development of new drugs for Alzheimer without registering much success, Eli Lilly changed the approach this year. Unlike nowadays Alzheimer drugs, the new pills developed by the American global pharmaceutical company will target a different protein than all other drugs on the market.
Eli Lilly mentioned that they have started human tests earlier this year, and they hope the new medicine will prove effective in treating the disease. Unlike all other products focused on a protein called Amyloid, their drug will target another aberrant protein that spreads through the human brain as the illness progresses. The protein is called tau, and it accumulates in tangles that eventually suffocate human brain cells.
As mentioned before, the primary focus of other drug companies is on a protein known under the name of amyloid. It is believed that the origin of the illness might be related to amyloids. However, there is no certainty in regards to this matter. Since Alois Alzheimer discovered the disease in 1906 by revealing tangles and clumps in the brain of a deceased patient, not much progress was made. Nowadays Alzheimer drugs are produced without even exactly knowing what it`s causing the disease. All medicines are focused on the symptoms, without treating the cause, which remains yet unknown.
There are an impressive number of drugs (almost 200) that failed to deal with the illness effectively. Without passing the human tests, none of these drugs made it to the market.
However, with more than 5 millions Americans suffering from Alzheimer and medicine sales of $3 billion each year, pharmaceutical companies still try to find an efficient cure which will skyrocket their profits. The strategies vary from one company to another.
With many of nowadays Alzheimer drugs focused on amyloid proteins failing the human trials, Big Pharma changes the approach. Since 2014, over $350 million were invested in the development of alternative drugs that will effectively slow down the degradation process of the brain. Biogen, for example, a biotechnology company focused on therapies for patients with autoimmune, neurological or rare illnesses, is testing two drugs targeting the tau protein.
Also, AbbVie is trying to perfect a new drug focused on the same protein, but they are only in the early stages of human trials.
Moreover, TauRx Pharmaceuticals, a company that has worked on a tau drug for the past few years, is planning to reveal the results of their human tests in late July.
Hopefully, researchers will find an efficient way to combat the disease, even though prospects are not very optimistic at this moment.
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