T

he corpse was already cold, but now it is well and truly buried: Researchers finally published the final results of the final clinical trial of Eli Lilly’s (LLY) experimental Alzheimer’s drug solanezumab. The bottom line — failure — has been known since Dr. Lawrence Honig of Columbia University unveiled the sad details at the 2016 Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference. But the reaction of outside experts, plus little asides in the New England Journal of Medicine paper, offer an intriguing glimpse into the sorry state of Alzheimer’s drug development:

What’s solanezumab?

It’s a monoclonal antibody that binds to beta-amyloid peptides and clears them from the brain, ideally before they form the fibrils that clump into the amyloid plaques that define Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t clear plaques themselves, nor restore the destroyed synapses or dying neurons that are responsible for disease’s catastrophic symptoms.

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