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Roche confident in Alzheimer's programmes, despite Lilly flop

ZURICH Nov 23 Roche said on Wednesday it still believed drugs targeting a protein called beta amyloid had potential to help fight Alzheimer's disease, despite the high-profile failure of such a product from Eli Lilly.

As the setback sent shares in Lilly skidding, Roche pointed out there were significant differences between two experimental Alzheimer's drugs it was developing and the U.S. drugmaker's failed solanezumab.

"We remain confident in our clinical development programmes and continue evaluating two late-stage antibodies that target beta amyloid, crenezumab and gantenerumab," a Roche spokesman said in a statement.

"Crenezumab and gantenerumab are distinct from each other, as well as from other investigational medicines."

Roche added its clinical trials programmes incorporated lessons from ongoing research in the field, noting it was investigating high drug doses and also targeting early-stage patients, who might benefit more from drug interventions.

The failure of Lilly's amyloid-based drug has cast doubt on this approach to fighting the memory-robbing disease, although a number of experts believe other therapies tackling the problem protein in slightly different ways might still work. (Reporting by John Miller and Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)

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