Lilly Alzheimer’s drug fails in latest study

This Tuesday, July 17, 2012, photo shows the Eli Lilly corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
This Tuesday, July 17, 2012, photo shows the Eli Lilly corporate headquarters in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s treatment failed in a large clinical study, ending hope that researchers had finally found a drug that can slow the fatal, mind-robbing disease.

The drug company’s shares plunged 13 percent before the opening bell Wednesday.

The drug, solanezumab, missed the study’s main goal of significantly slowing cognitive decline in patients compared to a placebo or fake drug.

Eli Lilly and Co. had been studying the drug in patients with mild cases of the disease.

Current Alzheimer’s treatments like Aricept and Namenda only temporarily ease symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and agitation. They don’t slow, stop or reverse the mental decline that happens when the brain’s nerve cells stop functioning normally.

At least 18 other drugs are in late-stage testing, including several similar to solanezumab.