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Immunity Drug Improves Cognition And Function For Alzheimer's Patients In Drug Trials

Amyloid plaques in living brain via PET and MRI technologies: from: Dan E Huddleston & Scott A Small. Nature Clinical Practice Neurology (2005)Amyloid plaques in living brain via PET and MRI technologies: from: Dan E Huddleston & Scott A Small. Nature Clinical Practice Neurology (2005) Gammagard, a Baxter International drug approved for immune system disorders, has been tested for effectiveness as an Alzheimer's treatment, after some patients receiving the drug showed improvements in the reduction of amyloid plaques. The drug, made from a pool of thousands of human blood plasma donations, contains a variety of amyloid-fighting antibodies effective against inflammation.

In Phase II of the Gammagard trials, 16 of 24 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease were given Gammagard for an 18 month period, while the control group of 8 patients was given placebos for the same period.  Results, released today, demonstrate that Gammagard did help preserve thinking abilities and reduce the rate of brain shrinkage in a small group of Alzheimer's patients who were studied for 18 months.  The results were confirmed by mental ability tests and by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

In Alzheimer's disease, brain cells die off at a rapid rate, four times faster than the cells of a healthy older person's brain cells.  Alzheimer brains actually shrink - something that is easily verifiable by MRI.  But the 16 patients who took Gammagard showed "less whole-brain atrophy" in the post treatment MRIs than did the patients on placebo.

Hopes are high that Gammagard might be the first drug to reverse Alzheimer's disease by removing plaque from the brain.  The drug is now going into Phase III trials. To obtain more information about the study, please visit The Gammaglobulin Alzheimer's Partnership Study.

 

Business Week, Chicago Tribune, Nature/Neurology