Small Study Offers Hope That Drug Could Help Stabilize Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers are reporting that Gammagard, made by Baxter International Inc., might help stabilize Alzheimer’s disease for as much as three years. The findings from the small study were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia. The evidence is weak and in only four patients, making the study was far too small to prove the treatment works, but it does provide hope that an effective treatment may be found.
There is a great need for an effective treatment. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. About 35 million people worldwide have dementia. About 5 million people have Alzheimer’s in the U.S. Current medicines, such as Aricept and Namenda, can only temporarily ease symptoms. There is no known cure.
Gammagard is intravenous immune globulin, or IVIG – multiple, natural antibodies culled from donated blood. IVIG is generally used to treat immune system and blood disorders. In Alzheimer’s patients, these antibodies may help remove amyloid, the sticky plaque that clogs patients’ brains, reducing their memory and ability to think.
Doctors say that four patients who have been receiving the highest dose of Gammagard in the study during the past three years showed no decline on memory and cognition tests. A dozen others didn’t fare as well on different doses or shorter treatment times. A similar study involving 400 patients will provide results within a year.
William Thies, the association’s scientific director, said, “It’s tantalizing. If you were to pick out four people with Alzheimer’s disease, the likelihood that they would perform the same on standardized tests three years later is very, very tiny.” Since patients typically go from diagnosis to death in eight years, to be stable for three years “is a long time,” he said. He continued, “We shouldn’t get euphoric and we shouldn’t get unreasonable enthusiasm, but this is a positive piece of data.”
Other medical professionals have warned against over-optimism on these early results. Many drugs tested previously looked promising until they were tested in large, definitive studies. Dr. Reisa Sperling, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said, “That’s the only way we can get data we can really rely on.
Trackback from your site.