Amyloid is not the primary culprit for Alzheimer’s disease

Mayo Clinic’s study[1], published Tuesday in the journal Brain, reaffirmed that amyloid is not the proximate causal pathology for Alzheimer’s disease, but tau is the primary culprit. This paper revived the debate debate over whether the pharmaceutical industry is focusing on the right target in developing Alzheimer’s drugs.

We have focused on amyloid over the last several decades. Big Pharmas such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Roche and Biogen have poured billions of dollars into developing anti-amyloid drugs. Although Biogen recently announced their early success of aducanumab, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Roche, and Eli Lilly have failed in Phasr III trials. There is good reason to be skeptical of anti-amyloid drugs.

Researchers at Mayo Clinic examined 3,618 brains in its brain bank, of which 1,375 brains were Alzheimer’s confirmed. The findings suggested that tau may be a bigger culprit in cognitive decline.

Singapore-based TauRx Pharmaceuticals is testing LMTX, a tau aggregation inhibitor, in several Phase III trials. In January 2015, Johnson & Johnson partners with Swiss-based AC Immune on tau vaccine in a $509 million deal. In March 2015, AbbVie entered into an license agreement with C2N Diagnostics to develop anti-tau antibodies. In April 2014, Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired iPierian and its anti-tau antibody IPN007 for $725 million.

[1] Brain. 2015, doi: 10.1093/brain/awv050.

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