Glimmer of Hope in Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

July 18, 2012

The dark shadowy existence that Alzheimer’s Disease has instilled upon millions of its victims throughout the last few decades may have finally been met with a glimmer of hope.

Although it is still in the testing phase, the immune therapy treatment called IVIG/Gammagard, is being hailed by experts at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2012 in Vancouver, as the first treatment shown to halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Treatment

As reported by the Associated Press, the drug is a collection of antibodies from pooled blood donations given as infusions every two weeks. These antibodies may help clear the sticky plaque that clogs the patient’s brain.

The findings on the treatment, made by Baxter International, follow a frustrating nine-year research period during which no new therapies have been discovered for the incurable brain-wasting disease affecting 5.4 million people in the United States.

The participants  in the recent study did not show improvement in most of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s they already had, but also did not show any further decline on measures of cognition, memory, daily functioning or mood over three years.

FDA Approval

Ironically, Gammaguard has already been approved by the FDA for treating other diseases caused by immune disorders. It’s a drug that relies on blood donations from healthy individuals and uses the antibodies that are rich in plasma. But this renders the drug limited in supply and very expensive at this stage, with monthly doses ranging from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the person’s body size.

Of course, the FDA will need time, some estimate 10 years, before approval for use in treating Alzheimer’s is granted.

Even with the usual limitations that come attached to new drug treatments, the hope remains that finally, we might shed light on this terrible and mysterious disease that plagues us, and so many of our family members.