Medtronic Inc. (MDT) is seeking pharma partners to couple the company’s pump technology with Alzheimer’s medicines that may be more effective if pushed directly into the brain.
Less than 1 percent of the intravenous drugs are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, a natural layer of protection in the vessels within the organ, Shafer said in a telephone interview. A product that can deliver drugs straight into the brain can yield higher and broader concentrations using 10-fold to 100-fold less medication, she said.
Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Eli Lilly (LLY) & Co. are developing medication designed to cut the development of beta amyloid proteins in the brain. The push into Alzheimer’s would expand the scope of Medtronic technology that’s been used for two decades to treat pain and spasticity, Shafer said. The company last year announced a partnership with Lilly on a Parkinson’s treatment, she said.
Medtronic fell less than 1 percent to $42.87 at the close of New York trading. The shares have gained 22 percent in the past 12 months. Medtronic’s expects that a pharma partners deal would be able to develop the technology better and hence will eventually reap the benefits.
The company has developed its own anti-amyloid medication to use in preclinical and animal testing, though it would prefer to collaborate with a pharmaceutical partner skilling Alzheimer’s research, Shafer said.
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