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Lilly acquires PET tracers for Alzheimer's imaging
INDIANAPOLIS—Eli Lilly and Co. has announced the acquisition of two investigational positron emission tomography (PET) tracers from Malvern, Pa.-based Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc. The two tracers are developed to image tau, or neurofibrillary, tangles in the brain, which is one of two identified signs of Alzheimer's disease. Autopsy samples have revealed that the amount and location of tau tangles in the brain of Alzheimer's disease patients might have a correlation with how severe the disease is. Currently, however, no approved diagnostics exist to identify tau tangles in living patients.
Initially, Lilly plans to work on incorporating the new tracers—which will be developed and validated by a team at Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Inc., Lilly's wholly owned subsidiary—into its anti-amyloid and anti-tau research and development programs. Lilly also has the option of commercializing the tracers. No financial details were released.
"PET imaging is a valuable tool in the fight against Alzheimer's disease, and Siemens is committed to helping fight this growing threat to our aging population," James Williams, CEO of Siemens' Molecular Imaging business unit, commented in a statement. "Lilly's continued development of these tau PET tracers combined with Siemens' ongoing investment in innovative PET imaging solutions is another great example of how Siemens is collaborating with pharmaceutical companies in an effort to provide new hope to patients and their families. "
The two main physiological events linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease are an accumulation of amyloid-beta protein leading to the formation of beta-amyloid plaques outside of neurons, and an accumulation of tau proteins leading to tau tangles inside of neurons. Tau tangles are believed to impede the transport of nutrients and other essential molecules throughout cells, which leads to neurodegeneration. Though tau tangles generally develop after beta-amyloid plaques, the development of their pathology is thought to be a closer reflection of cognitive decline.
"The acquisition of these tau tangle tracers builds on our 25-year commitment of investing in Alzheimer's disease research and development to bring new medicines to patients facing the terrible consequences of Alzheimer's disease," said Jan M. Lundberg, Ph.D., executive vice president of science and technology and president of Lilly Research Laboratories. "We are hopeful that this technology will both enhance our understanding of tau and its role in Alzheimer's disease, and contribute to the development of our anti-amyloid and anti-tau based therapies to treat this disease."
In related news, Lilly and Avid Radiopharmaceuticals announced back in January that Amyvid, a radioactive diagnostic agent that can cross the blood-brain barrier after injection and selectively bind to amyloid plaques, had received marketing authorization from the European Commission. The product was authorized as a diagnostic radiopharmaceutical indicated for PET imaging of beta-amyloid neuritic plaque density in the brains of patients with cognitive impairment that are under evaluation for Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.
SOURCE: Eli Lilly and Co. press release