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Good news regarding an Alzheimer’s treatment

Last week at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, Canada, Dr. Norman Relkin of the Weill Cornell Medical College (New York) presented results from the first research that showed a medication can halt the progression of the disease over a long period of time (up to 6 years).

This is remarkable because while 1 out of 3 people over age 65 will develop dementia (Alzheimer’s Disease being the most common cause), we still have no good treatments. This study by the New York neurologist has created a huge surge of optimism that a treatment is possible, and might be commercially available within 10 years.

The treatment is IVIG, intravenous immunoglobulin, basically a concentration of antibodies collected from multiple blood donors, and has been used for 30 years to treat people with antibody deficiencies. It was hypothesized that these antibodies would also help fight the “amyloid plaque” that forms in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Dr. Relkin and his group at the Memory Disorders Program at Cornell performed the initial study on 16 paients, where half were given inactive placebo and half were given the IVIG in varying doses every two weeks. After 18 months, the results showed that the group receiving IVIG had suffered no progression of their dementia, while all those receiving placebo became worse. The patients treated with IVIG did not improve their pre-existing mental decline, but the fact that it stopped progression of the disease was a first in Alzheimer’s research.

Dr. Redkin’s group is now conducting studies on a larger group of subjects (390) and the results are due in early 2013. If these results are confirmatory, IVIG will likely be approved as a treatment, but IVIG is difficult to make, expensive, and in short supply. IVIG requires multiple blood donors, and there is no quick way to produce it. If the substance can be obtained, it costs about $5,000 per month. Fortunately, severe side effects are rare.

We will update you here in Mais Saúde when the new study IVIG study is released. If further studies are confirmatory, it is anticipated that pharmaceutical companies will invest heavily in mass-production of the substance. IVIG is considered a “shotgun” treatment, in that it gives the patient millions of different types of antibodies, but probably only a few of these are necessary to fight the amyloid plaque in Alzheimer’s. According to Dr. William Thies, chief medical officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, when we identify those specific antibodies, we will be close to the “silver bullet” treatment that is needed.

The type of specialist who deals specifically with Alzheimer’s disease is a neurologist. If you need to find a neurologist or other type of doctor in Brazil, you can easily do so through our main site:

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Good news regarding an Alzheimer’s treatment was last modified: July 23rd, 2012 by

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