News Feature | September 17, 2014

Lilly And AstraZeneca Join Forces To Advance Alzheimer's Disease Drug

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Eli Lilly announced that it has entered into an agreement with British drug firm AstraZeneca to jointly tackle the development and marketing of AZD3293 as potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

AZD3293 is an oral small molecule inhibitor of beta secretase cleaving enzyme (BACE). BACE is linked with the development of beta-amyloid, which accumulates into amyloid plaque in Alzheimer’s disease. BACE inhibition is expected to prevent amyloid plaque accumulation and slow AD progression. AZD3293 has been shown to cut down levels of beta-amyloid in the cerebro-spinal fluid of both AD patients and healthy participants.

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca will receive up to $500 million in development and regulatory milestone payments for AZD3293. Lilly will make the first payment of $50 million in the first half of 2015.

AZ previously announced its plans to move AZD3293 along into registration trials. As part of the new agreement, the partners will advance AZD3293 quickly into a Phase II/III trial in patients with early Alzheimer's disease. Lilly will take the lead in the drug’s clinical development, while AZ will focus on manufacturing the drug. Both companies will take part in commercialization and share both future costs and net global revenues for AZD3293.

David Ricks, Lilly SVP and president of Lilly Bio-Medicines, said, “Lilly's pipeline of potential medicines and diagnostic agents targeting the known hallmarks of the disease has been bolstered today by this alliance with AstraZeneca… This alliance moves us one step closer to achieving our goal of making Alzheimer's dementia preventable by 2025.”

Mene Pangalos, EVP of Innovative Medicines & Early Development at AstraZeneca, said, “We believe that, by combining the scientific expertise from our two organizations and by sharing the risks and cost of late-stage development, we will be able to accelerate the advancement of AZD3293 and progress a promising new approach to support the treatment of Alzheimer's patients around the world.” AstraZeneca expressed its desire to partner up with another company to develop AZD3293 earlier this year after fending off a $106 billion takeover from U.S. rival Pfizer.

If the partners are successful, AZD3293 could be the first major breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer’s since the first drug approval for the disease in 1993.