A small study using an experimental drug designed to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease has proven to be quite successful, so far. CBS News reported that the drug, called IVIG, contains antibodies from people who don't have Alzheimer's. It appears that the drug attacks Amyloid, the plaque that is thought to damage the brain. At this time, the Amyloid plaque is considered the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
The study showed that IVIG actually halted the cognitive decline in some patients with diagnosed AD. Twenty-four patients were studied, with 11 showing a smaller decline than the group taking a placebo. However, four patients showed no decline.
Doctors have yet to determine the optimal dosage, but since the four patients who showed no decline in function over a three year period were given the same dosage, researchers feel they are getting closer to solving this challenge.
Dr. Norman Relkin of Weill Cornell Medical College who led the study said that, "Patients who are in this stage of Alzheimer's disease, typically if they are untreated, will decline below where they start in three to six months.”
The results of this small study are only preliminary and treatment would cost at least $50,000 per year, so we won’t see this drug on the market soon. The long-term hope is that with new methods of discovering people who, decades before showing symptoms, are actually developing Alzheimer’s disease, a drug such as IVIG could be administered early on. If successful, the drug would then prevent the treated patients from developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Relkin was quoted as saying that, "This may not be the ultimate solution in terms of its cost and availability, but if it points the way towards a less expensive and more widely available treatment then we'll be winning the battle against the disease."
Only time and considerably more research will ultimately tell us if IVIG will prove to be an important discovery. But this study does give us hope. Each step forward is progress.
LaPook, J. (2012, July 17) New Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Promise. CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57474343/new-alzheimers-drug-shows-promise/?tag=showDoorFlexGridRight;flexGridModule
Published On: July 18, 2012