Dec 18 Merck & Co and General Electric
Co's healthcare unit have agreed to collaborate on an
experimental drug for Alzheimer's disease, the companies said on
GE Healthcare will supply Flutemetamol, an investigational
imaging agent, to Merck for use with its experimental
Alzheimer's disease drug MK-8931.
The companies hope GE's imaging agent will help identify
patients who might benefit from a therapy such as Merck's, which
targets beta amyloid, a protein that can clump together and form
plaques in the brain. Such plaques have been found in the brains
of patients with Alzheimer's disease.
MK-8931 is Merck's lead Alzheimer's drug candidate and is
designed to modify progression of the disease as well as improve
symptoms. Alzheimer's robs patients of their memory and can
cause other cognitive disturbances.
Based on promising results from an early-stage clinical
trial of MK-8931, Merck plans to move forward with a larger
trial, called EPOCH, at multiple sites around the world.
Flutemetamol is a positron emission tomography (PET) imaging
agent that has been able, in clinical trials, to detect beta
amyloid in the brain.
GE Healthcare will supply Flutemetamol to help select
patients for clinical trials and evaluate the agent as a
companion diagnostic tool. Financial and other terms of the
agreement between the companies were not disclosed.