Lilly and BACE

The termination of LY2886721, Lilly’s BACE inhibitor, probably reverberates louder than it should because it occurs in the context of a seemingly unremitting drumbeat of Alzheimer’s program failures.But Lilly’s statement that they think it was the molecule itself at fault is important, albeit not definitive. At least thus far, they do not believe that the compound’s problems implicate the BACE mechanism itself; and it means they do not believe it is a ‘class effect’ that might cast a pall over all other BACE inhibitor candidates. Having said that—One can bet that the other companies with BACE inhibitor programs, and this includes Merck, Roche, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca, will be nervously taking a close look at their molecules to see if there is any reason to suspect that they could run into a similar issue. Merck in particularly invested in this question, with MK-8931 now in Phase II testing.  Molecules occasionally have unforeseen systemic consequences, that in itself says little or nothing about the state of the Alzheimer’s art. But if anyone else announces a BACE inhibitor holdup due to liver issues, that would be much more worrisome in terms of the big-picture trek towards an Alzheimer’s disease-modifier, where there have been more pitfalls than progress thus far.

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