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A major Alzheimer's drug just failed a key trial

A key drug to treat Alzheimer’s failed a late-stage clinical trial, Eli Lilly and Company said Wednesday.

The drug, solanezumab, wasn’t able to slow down cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s compared to those who took placebo.

“The results of the solanezumab Expedition3 trial were not what we had hoped for and we are disappointed for the millions of people waiting for a potential disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,” Lilly CEO John Lechleiter said in a release.

Lilly’s shares were down 14% Wednesday morning before markets opened.

Screen Shot 2016 11 23 at 6.56.30 AMMarkets Insider

There are only four approved drugs that are in use to treat Alzheimer’s, and on average about 99% of all drugs in clinical trials never actually make it to approval.

Solanezumab was going after the “amyloid hypothesis,” or the idea that targeting beta amyloid deposits in the brain to clear them out is the way to go about treating the disease. Biogen, another company that is going after the same hypothesis was down 7.7% Wednesday before markets open.

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