AstraZeneca takes on Merck in Alzheimer's drug race
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca is moving an
Alzheimer's drug into late-stage development,
taking on U.S. rival Merck & Co which announced plans to
start similar final-stage research in December.
Britain's second-biggest drugmaker revealed its plan to move
AZD3293 into the last phase of testing needed for registration
as it announced full-year results on Thursday.
Both the AstraZeneca and Merck medicines work by blocking an
enzyme called beta secretase that is involved in production of
beta-amyloid, a protein that creates brain plaques considered a
major cause of Alzheimer's disease.
Such oral drugs are known as BACE inhibitors and are viewed
as a promising new approach to fighting the memory-robbing
BACE inhibitor drugs have taken centre stage after an
injectable class of medicines targeting beta-amyloid plaque
failed or fell short in trials conducted by Pfizer and