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Eli Lilly and Company (LLY - Analyst Report) recently announced the acquisition of a couple of investigational positron emission tomography (PET) tracers from Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc.

The tracers will aim to image tau (neurofibrillary) tangles in the brain. According to studies of samples from autopsies, the number and location of tau tangles in the brain of an Alzheimer’s disease patient could be connected to the extent of the disease.

Eli Lilly will initially work on incorporating tau tangle tracers into its anti-amyloid and anti-tau research and development programs.

The successful development of tau tangle tracers could help identify at-risk patients at an earlier stage of the disease and could also provide a marker to measure the response to treatment. Eli Lilly may also commercialize the tracers. Financial details of the transaction were not available.

Eli Lilly has been working on developing a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Solanezumab, an anti-amyloid beta monoclonal antibody, is currently scheduled to move into an additional phase III study that will be conducted in patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease.

The study is scheduled to commence before the third quarter of 2013. We remind investors that Eli Lilly had initially reported top-line data on solanezumab from the phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled EXPEDITION studies in Aug 2012. The studies were conducted in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease.

Although solanezumab failed to meet its primary endpoints in both the phase III EXPEDITION studies, the candidate demonstrated promising potential in slowing cognitive decline.

The Alzheimer’s disease market has attracted a lot of attention from several companies. However, the successful development of therapies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is challenging and we note that several companies have failed in developing treatments for the same.

Eli Lilly currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Companies that look better-positioned include UCB (UCBJF), Catalyst Pharmaceuticals Partners Inc. (CPRX - Snapshot Report) and QLT Inc. (QLTI - Analyst Report). All three are Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) stocks.

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