GE and Lilly Create Alliance for Alzheimer's

Big business is interested in detecting early stages of memory loss. GE Healthcare already has a substantial effort in providing advanced MRI and CT scanning solutions to the globe. What if there were ways to systematically assess people to help determine whether or not they were a good candidate for such treatments? Think MemCheck

GE, Lilly divisions to team up on Alzheimer's research...

Eli Lilly and Co. will help General Electric Co.'s health care and research units find compounds to detect the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and perhaps treat it.

The open-ended research collaboration, announced Tuesday, will aim to learn of better ways to diagnose the dread brain disease that renders its victims, typically the elderly, unable to think or remember.

"We are confident that this collaboration will result in a definitive molecular diagnostic for this disease," said Scott Donnelly, senior vice president of New York-based GE Global Research, in a statement.

Lilly's role primarily involves opening its molecular library to GE to search for compounds that appear promising for GE's Alzheimer's research program. About eight Lilly researchers have been working with GE in the early stages of the project, said Asia Martin, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis drugmaker.

"We're eager to see what they find," she said about the GE scientists.

No money changes hands under the agreement, Martin said. Lilly will get access to any therapies developed in the project, and GE has rights to develop any diagnostics.

"We learn more about our compounds, and they learn more about their diagnostics," she said.

GE Healthcare, based in the United Kingdom, has licensed an imaging agent from the University of Pittsburgh to use in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease.

Diagnosing the disease early, before it starts ravaging the memory, has the potential to improve outcomes in treating Alzheimer's, said Dr. Steven Paul, executive vice president for science and technology at Lilly, in a statement.

One theory is that elevated levels of certain proteins and plaques in the brain cause Alzheimer's, which affects 4.5 million Americans. That's twice the number diagnosed with the disease in 1980, according to the Alzheimer's Association.

GE Healthcare says its seeks similar partnerships with other drugmakers to find treatments for other neurological diseases.

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