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Alzheimer's Therapy Acts Within Minutes

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, January 14, 2008 9:54 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs


Alzheimers Patients Improve in Minutes with Anti-inflammation Drug


It almost sounds like it’s too good to be true. But a therapy intended for arthritis appears to work almost immediately to reverse some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study is published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation and comes from the University of California Los Angeles and a private medical group, the Institute for Neurological Research. 

The institute report deals with the effect on one patient, but the group reports others have received the treatment and shown marked improvement. The research gives clues about new areas of exploration and the role of inflammation in disease.  

The therapy is based on the observation of soluble proteins called cytokines in Alzheimer’s disease. One of the cytokines, a component of the brain’s immune system, is called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF). TNF causes apoptosis or programmed cell death.

Under normal circumstances, TNF helps nerve impulses travel through the brain but since excess levels of TNF have been found in cerebrospinal fluid of Alzheimer’s patients, the theory is that elevated levels of TNF might interfere with this communication in Alzheimer brain. 

 Patients were given an anti-TNF drug called etanercept in the spine and saw the dramatic unprecedented therapeutic effect within minutes.  Etanercept is approved by the FDA for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and is called Enbrel. It was used “off label” for this study.

 The 2007 Harvard Health Letter calls anti-TNF therapeutics among the Top 10 Health Stories of the Year that has implications for treatment of diseases with an inflammatory component such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

 The authors from the Institute for Neurological research include Dr Hyman Gross of UCLA, co-author and Dr. Edward Tobinick, assistant clinical profess of medicine at UCLA and director of the institute.

 An accompanying editorial says the drug therapy delivered “sustained cognitive function for Alzheimer's patients.”

Alzheimer's disease afflicts more than 26 million people and is expected to quadruple in 40 years to 106 million which many call a global Alzheimer's epidemic. Half of those patients will need nursing home care.  #

 Help Center Quick Link - Nursing Home and Elder Abuse 

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