GlaxoSmithKline Fund Looks for Early-Stage Alzheimer's Detectors

Published: Oct 23, 2012

GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK)’s venture- capital fund is seeking to invest in a biotechnology company that has both a brain-imaging dye to detect warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease and a drug treatment for the ailment. “The big change will come with imaging agents,” Jens Eckstein, president of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based SR One fund, said in a webcam interview. “We’re really interested in that area.” Imaging agents detect proteins called amyloid that define the disease. The illness can be identified at an early stage through routine scanning if started when patients are still healthy, Eckstein said. Recent studies of treatments to slow or stop progression of Alzheimer’s were flawed as they recruited patients with advanced forms of the disease, where “70 percent of the damage was already done,” he said. The comments show Glaxo isn’t giving up on Alzheimer’s disease after recent high-profile failures of experimental treatments. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s bapineuzumab as well as Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY)’s solanezumab failed to help Alzheimer’s symptoms in people with advanced disease in separate study results announced over the past two months. Still, both target amyloid plaque and showed promise for use in early-stage patients.

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