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Phase 3 Trials of Solanezumab for Mild-to-Moderate Alzheimer's Disease


Alzheimer's disease is characterized by amyloid-beta plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, gliosis, and neuronal loss. Solanezumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody, preferentially binds soluble forms of amyloid and in preclinical studies promoted its clearance from the brain.


In two phase 3, double-blind trials (EXPEDITION 1 and EXPEDITION 2), we randomly assigned 1012 and 1040 patients, respectively, with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease to receive placebo or solanezumab (administered intravenously at a dose of 400 mg) every 4 weeks for 18 months. The primary outcomes were the changes from baseline to week 80 in scores on the 11-item cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog11; range, 0 to 70, with higher scores indicating greater cognitive impairment) and the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study–Activities of Daily Living scale (ADCS-ADL; range, 0 to 78, with lower scores indicating worse functioning). After analysis of data from EXPEDITION 1, the primary outcome for EXPEDITION 2 was revised to the change in scores on the 14-item cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale (ADAS-cog14; range, 0 to 90, with higher scores indicating greater impairment), in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease.


Neither study showed significant improvement in the primary outcomes. The modeled difference between groups (solanezumab group minus placebo group) in the change from baseline was −0.8 points for the ADAS-cog11 score (95% confidence interval [CI], −2.1 to 0.5; P=0.24) and −0.4 points for the ADCS-ADL score (95% CI, −2.3 to 1.4; P=0.64) in EXPEDITION 1 and −1.3 points (95% CI, −2.5 to 0.3; P=0.06) and 1.6 points (95% CI, −0.2 to 3.3; P=0.08), respectively, in EXPEDITION 2. Between-group differences in the changes in the ADAS-cog14 score were −1.7 points in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease (95% CI, −3.5 to 0.1; P=0.06) and −1.5 in patients with moderate Alzheimer's disease (95% CI, −4.1 to 1.1; P=0.26). In the combined safety data set, the incidence of amyloid-related imaging abnormalities with edema or hemorrhage was 0.9% with solanezumab and 0.4% with placebo for edema (P=0.27) and 4.9% and 5.6%, respectively, for hemorrhage (P=0.49).


Solanezumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds amyloid, failed to improve cognition or functional ability. (Funded by Eli Lilly; EXPEDITION 1 and 2 numbers, NCT00905372 andNCT00904683.)
N Engl J Med 2014; 370:311-321January 23, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1312889

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