Merck & Co puts its faith in amyloid beta hypothesis

Date December 04, 2012

Merck & Co’s bold bet on the Alzheimer’s disease amyloid beta hypothesis, launching a 1,960-patient trial of its oral beta-secretase inhibitor MK-8931, could well have been driven by the mixed success that Lilly has seen with solanezumab.

While this is another sign that industry is far from giving up on failure-prone Alzheimer's drugs, as ever it seems that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; just before Merck’s announcement Bristol-Myers Squibb canned development of a molecule with a related mechanism, the phase II gamma-secretase inhibitor avagacestat. Still, EvaluatePharma data show that both mechanistic approaches remain a focus for large and medium-sized companies alike (see tables below).

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