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Another drug trial for Alzheimer's disease fails

On August 24, 2012, a press release by Eli Lilly and Company stated that the clinical trial for solanezumab, an antibody drug being developed to treat Alzheimer's disease failed. This is the third clinical trial that did not achieve the desired results. 

Alzheimer's disease continues to pose many challenges to clinicians and neuroscientists. While there is no cure, it is believed that early detection can make a big difference in understanding how the disease progresses. This information is also important for scientists to understand what may be suitable drug targets and how clinical trials must be designed. Research on all aspects os Alzheimer's disease is ongoing at various institutions around the world. 

Recently, there have been a few major setbacks in the development of drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, both pharmaceutical giants, recently reported that two late-stage clinical trials of the monoclonal antibody bapineuzumab failed. These two trials were in phase III,  and failed to slow down the cognitive decline that is characteristic of the disease. And just last week, another antibody solanezumab failed to limit the progression of the disease. While these are major setbacks for the pharmaceutical companies, there are lessons to be learned from all this data.

It seems that the antibodies may have a better impact on milder forms of the disease. Some scientists believe that these data suggest that early stages of the disease may be more responsive to treatment with antibodies to prevent decline rather than reverse decline at later stages. Moving forward, it seems that the research focus is likely to shift towards early detection methods and minimizing cognitive decline. These studies further reinforce the enormity of the challenge faced by scientists and clinicians who are working on this research. 

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