Washington University neurologists create Alzheimer’s drug test

April 10, 2009, St. Louis Business Journal Washington University School of Medicine researchers have developed a test that may help assess more quickly the ability of Alzheimer's drugs to affect one of the possible underlying causes of Alzheimer's disease in humans.

Scientists used the test to show that an Alzheimer's drug in clinical trials by Eli Lilly reduced in healthy volunteers the production of a substance known as amyloid beta (A-beta), a normal byproduct of human metabolism that builds to unhealthy levels forming brain plaques in Alzheimer's patients.

Washington University researchers wanted to see whether a new measurement technique, stable isotope-linked kinetics (SILK), could detect the study drug's impact on A-beta synthesis in healthy volunteers. The results appeared Friday in the Annals of Neurology.

The study was funded through a Lilly grant from a funding program that allowed Bateman to propose the research and retain control of it. Five of the paper's 12 authors are Eli Lilly employees. Dr. Randall Bateman, a Washington U. neurologist, is the study’s director. Washington University licensed its pending patents on SILK to C2N Diagnostics, a St. Louis diagnostics company started by Bateman, and Dr. David Holtzman, Washington U. chair of neurology.

Bateman and Holtzman's financial interests in the company are governed by the university's conflict-of-interest policies, the university said.

Washington University School of Medicine's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals.

From St. Louis Business Journal