Roche & Lilly team up to catch Alzheimer’s early
Two Indianapolis powerhouses are joining forces to improve how doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Roche Diagnostics and Eli Lilly and Co. are working to create a routine blood test that could help spot the disease earlier. Typically, doctors do a PET scan to look for the buildup of amyloid protein in the brain to diagnose Alzheimer’s, but Roche says its Elecsys Amyloid Plasma Panel, or EAPP, will be able to find the same protein in the blood.
Roche Vice President of Medical and Scientific Affairs Dr. Corinne Fantz told Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta the test could narrow the gap for patients who are typically diagnosed after nearly three years of the onset of symptoms.
“Because it is very similar to what is in the PET scans, we’re detecting the same thing in the blood that you can see on a PET scan,” said Fantz. “That makes it much more accessible to get a blood collection at a local institution, and anybody can do that; not all institutions have PET scanners. So, this makes it more accessible. In addition to that, having it in this format of a blood test allows every hospital to offer this.”
Currently, up to 75% of people living with symptoms of Alzheimer’s have not received an official diagnosis.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the EAPP tool a Breakthrough Device Designation. Roche said if the tool receives full approval, it would determine whether patients should proceed to further evaluation and testing that may confirm a diagnosis.
Fantz said the collaboration with Lilly is exciting for her.
“We have two companies that have [an] aligned vision [and] shared objective to support a better timely diagnosis for patients and access to future therapies. So we’re aligned in that vision, and doing that would accelerate access to an earlier diagnosis and treatment.”
The designation from the FDA and the partnership with Lilly, Fantz said, is putting research, which is in the preclinical stage, on the EAPP tool on the fast track.
“We’re able to accelerate the development of this test, but the test is still in development,” she said. “So we’re looking at probably 18 to 24 months of the study and then bringing something to market after the FDA has time to review it.”
Fantz said the partnership with Lilly gives researchers, patients, and families for the future of Alzheimer’s detection.
“For this relationship to blossom like it has in connecting two very large companies that have the same objective is really a step forward in trying to move the needle for for these patients and their families. It’s a challenging disease, and the diagnosis is even more so, and we’ve seen it as we’ve partnered with clinicians in trying to understand more. Whatever we can do together, I think amplifies our efforts.”