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A major Alzheimer’s Disease breakthrough is on horizon

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 7, 2014 in Health
Scientists have discovered how to inject substances into the human brain, offering potential to treat Alzheimer’s. The research proposes that those suffering from the disease could be given a weekly injection and, in effect, be cured.
This is what you need to know: outside of our brains there's something called the blood-brain barrier (BBB), in essence a lot of blood vessels. The BBB prevents substances from getting into the brain, like a lineman protects a quarterback. But with Alzheimer’s you want that lineman to step aside, because what is going in there is a build-up of amyloid beta plaques, and that is stopping stop neurons in the brain from firing. Which is what causes Alzheimer’s disease.
There is a protein called transferrin that gets through the BBB, in fact it's job is to take materials, mostly iron, to the brain. Scientists knew if they could attach certain antibodies to the transferrin, antibodies capable of stopping the build-up of those plaques, that would allow neurons to keep firing and, presto! the end of Alzheimer’s disease in that brain.
They had the antibodies but problem was that scientists couldn't find a way to attach these antibodies to the transferrin. Until now. Mind you, they have not managed to do it in human beings, but they have in primates, and the results are encouraging.
Scientists study Alzheimer's Disease
Dr. Joy Yu of the U.S. biotechnology company Genentech Inc. lead a study into this field and found considerable success - with monkeys. “If this technique proves successful in humans, patients could receive weekly subcutaneous or monthly intravenous injections to keep neurological diseases at bay,” Dr. Yu said in a statement.
Dr. Yu and her colleagues were able to inject antibodies that prevented the build-up of the plaque into those monkeys by attaching them to transferrin. If it works on primates there is a strong chance it will work on humans.
Depending on which research you look at, there are estimated to be somewhere between 35 to 40 plus million suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and other related dementia worldwide. In the U.S. alone $220 billion is spent annually caring for those with the illness. That all adds up to this: a breakthrough would be welcome indeed.
The study was recently published in Science Translational Medicine and the authors say that they will move on to the next phase - studying the same thing but in humans this time.
More about Alzheimers Disease, antibodies on transferrin, study on Alzheimers
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