There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. A great deal of research is driven with the goal to slow down the disease’s progress and a Weill Cornell team believe they have found a novel approach.
What makes the Weill Cornell’s researchers approach unique is that it involves a drug that has been used for decades and has not shown adverse effects. The drug sells under the trade name Gammagard and is given intravenously to treat primary immunodeficiency. It appears that Gammagard is an effective way to clear away beta-amyloid protein, which is thought to be part of the mechanism involved in the development of Alzheimer’s.
In a 6 month pilot study patients were given Gammagard. During the first 3 months they where given the drug the result was that their cognitive ability steadily increased. For the last 3 months of the study, the patients were not given the drug and their test scores steadily decreased.
Encouraged by the results of the 6 month study, the researchers performed a 9 month study where 8 patients received a low dosage of Gammagard every other week. The result was that 6 of the 8 Alzheimer’s patients in the study demonstrated improved cognitive ability. Interestingly, the 6 that had improved during the 9 month study continued to either show signs of improved cognition or at the least to remain at the same level as when the study concluded. None of the 8 patients had an adverse reaction to Gammagard.
Currently, researchers are developing techniques to boost the drug to target beta-amyloid antibodies, which will make the treatment even more effective.