Lilly stops mid-stage Alzheimer's drug study (Update)

Eli Lilly and Co. said Thursday that it stopped a mid-stage clinical trial of an experimental Alzheimer's disease drug because of potential side effects on patients' livers.

The company stopped testing LY2886721 because of abnormal results in liver biochemical tests. Lilly says the results were found as part of routine monitoring and it will continue to monitor all patients.

The Indianapolis company will evaluate data from the trial before deciding on the next steps for the drug. Lilly says it may continue development of similar drugs. Lilly will take a charge related to stopping the trial, but it won't affect its full-year guidance.

About 35 million people worldwide have dementia. Alzheimer's is the most common type and there are around 5 million patients in the U.S. Approved drugs like Aricept and Namenda temporarily ease symptoms, but there is no cure.

The company is also running late-stage studies on the drug solanezumab as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Solanezumab targets beta-amyloid, the sticky plaque that gums up the brains of patients with the disease.

In August 2010 Lilly ended a late-stage trial of the Alzheimer's drug semagacestat, which was more like LY2886721 than solanezumab. Both drugs target types of an enzyme called secretase.

Eli Lilly shares rose 7 cents to close at $51.85. They fell 26 cents to $51.59 in after-hours trading.

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