AstraZeneca has announced its intention to back a potential new treatment for Alzheimer's disease.
Along with US drug company Eli Lilly in a risk and reward deal, it will develop AZD3293, which showed promising signs of tackling the degenerative disease in the first stages of trials.
Scientists hope the drug will put a halt to the build-up of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain, which are thought to be the hallmark and main cause of the debilitating condition.
Eli Lilly will pay AstraZeneca as much as $500 million (£308 million) across the whole project, with $50 million expected before the middle of next year. If the drug is successful, all profits will be shared equally - although there is a lot of pressure on this, as a cure for this form of cognitive decline seems to be eluding researchers across the globe.
Brian White and Paul Taylor from Shore Capital told the Daily Telegraph: "Although the prospect for the development of an effective treatment which modifies the relentless progressive neurodegenerative nature of Alzheimer’s disease is a very attractive one, such an objective has been littered with mixed results and disappointment to date, and as such it makes sense to share the risk."
Initial testing showed how the drug was able to noticeably slash levels of amyloid-beta in the brain and spinal fluid of both those with the condition and those without.
Nevertheless, this is still a risky investment. AZD3293 is known as a BACE inhibitor, which means it is an experimental type of treatment that hopes to stop the production of amyloid-beta.
Concerns remain because BACE is associated with other processes in the body. In 2013, Eli Lilly put an end to a clinical trial that involved a different drug when abnormal liver results were discovered in those involved.
David Cameron recently pledged his commitment to discover a treatment for the neurodegenerative condition, calling it as much of a threat to society as cancer.
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