New Hope for Alzheimer’s Patients

January 10, 2008 05:46 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Researchers in Los Angeles experimenting with spinal injections of a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis say that it can reverse the cognitive problems of Alzheimer’s.

30-Second Summary

A case report published this week in the Journal of Neuroinflammation details the marked improvement of a man with Alzheimer’s disease who received a spinal injection of etanercept, known by the brand name Enbrel. Within 10 minutes he appeared happier and better able to answer questions about where he was.

A man who was identified only as a member of the patient’s family described the before-and-after as “the single most remarkable thing I have ever seen. That was amazing,” according to a video that accompanied the case report.

Enbrel was approved in 1998. It is one of three drugs that block the tumor necrosis factor, or TNF-alpha protein, that rallies white blood cells to fight infections. People with rheumatoid arthritis are unable to rid their bodies of the protein, and the build-up becomes harmful. Studies have shown that TNF-alpha plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease.

The private Institute for Neurological Research and University of California at Los Angeles researchers acknowledged that everyone involved knew about the injection, so it is possible that the improvement was psychological rather than physical. The authors say that they have seen the same results in other patients who received etanercept injections over three years of clinical trials.

One Alzheimer’s research advocate said that much more work needs to be done to determine whether these injections could benefit many more Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Headline Link: ‘Study: Arthritis Drug Shows Promise in Reversing Symptoms of Alzheimer's’

Reaction: Cautious optimism, ‘dramatic change’

Background: Etanercept report, TNF-alpha inhibitors


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