A cure for Alzheimer's disease is one of the most sought-after prizes in the pharmaceutical industry today. The tragic degenerative effects of this illness are widely known, but drugmakers have been unable to find medicines that can effectively slow its progression. The development of a drug shared by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Elan was stopped last summer, and Eli Lilly's phase 3 compound solanezumab displayed mixed results after the data was analyzed last autumn. Pharma titanĀ MerckĀ (NYSE:MRK) is also in the race to find an effective treatment with its experimental Alzheimer's drug, called MK-8931, and the company is currently enrolling patients in its phase 2/3 study.

Today, in an effort to enroll the appropriate subgroup of patients in its study, Merck announced that it has an agreement in place with Luminex (NASDAQ:LMNX) for a companion diagnostic that can help diagnose Alzheimer's disease. Health-care Max Macaluso analyst discusses the importance of this deal in the following video.

Max Macaluso, Ph.D., has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.