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Blood product could be an Alzheimer’s cure

By Tim Sandle     Oct 13, 2015 in Science
Sutter Institute of Medical Research has undertaken a study using an immunoglobulin blood product to control and seemingly cure Alzheimer’s disease at a particular stage of the disease’s progression.
The study, using a blood product (where specific blood plasma proteins are extracted and formulated), showed the drug product can reduce brain atrophy and cognitive decline with patients who had an early, pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease.
The product — immunoglobulin — is developed by extracting blood plasma (the straw colored fluid in which blood cells are found) from 1,000 blood donations. Plasma contains thousands of proteins, many of which have been shown to have beneficial effects once isolated, purified and administered as a medicinal product.
Immunoglobulins (or antibodies) are types of proteins circulating in plasma. Immunoglobulins provide protection from diseases by binding to invasive proteins (such as those associated with viruses and bacteria). Once bound, immunoglobulins inhibit the activity of forewings proteins and form large complexes that are then cleared from blood circulation.
The immunoglobulin product contains antibodies to the protein amyloid, associated with people who have Alzheimer’s disease and thought to be a causative agent.
By administering the immunolglobulin on a regular basis, and comparing the results to a placebo group, those with early onset Alzheimer’s were found to have reduced brain atrophy. Each patient was either infused with immunoglobulin every two weeks or given saline.
The study was conducted between 2011 and 2013 using a group of 50 patients. Each patient had been diagnosed with “amnestic mild cognitive impairment.” The reduction in brain atrophy was assessed by neural imaging and supported by cognitive testing. In the test group, a reduction in brain atrophy correlated with improved cognitive skills.
Once the infusion of immunoglobulin stopped, the differences between the two groups of patients normalized after 12 months. This has led the researchers to propose further studies where an annual infusion of immunoglobulin is given. The manufacturer of the immunoglobulin is not named in the research brief and unfortunately the full-paper is hidden behind a paywall. Nevertheless, the information presented so far indicates that this line of research is worth further exploration.
Commenting on the study, William Au, M.D., co-director of the Sutter Memory Clinic, said: “This study of immunoglobulin in mild cognitive impairment may be the beginning of research that could hold the key to finding a cure for this terrible illness.”
The research has been published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. The long title of the research paper is: “IVIG treatment of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease: a randomised double-blinded exploratory study of the effect on brain atrophy, cognition and conversion to dementia.”
More about Alzheimers, Alzheimer's disease, blood product, plasma product, Blood
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