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November 15, 2004

The Immunotherapy of Alzeimer's Disease

Topics: Clinical Pharmacology

Abstract Review.

Immunity & Ageing 2004, 1:2     doi:10.1186/1742-4933-1-2

Only a small percentage of patients with Alzheimer's disease benefit from current drug therapy and for only a relatively short time. This is not surprising as the goal of these drugs is to enhance existing cerebral function in Alzheimer patients and not to block the progression of cognitive decline. In contrast, immunotherapy is directed at clearing the neurotoxic amyloid beta peptide from the brain that directly or indirectly leads to cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer's disease. The single trial of active immunization with the amyloid beta peptide provided suggestive evidence of a reduction in cerebral amyloid plaques and of stabilization in cognitive function of half the patients who developed good antibody responses to the amyloid beta peptide.

However, in 6% of actively immunized Alzheimer patients developed sterile meningoencephalitis that forced the cessation of the clinical trial. Passive immunotherapy in animal models of Alzheimer's disease has provided similar benefits comparable to those seen with active immunotherapy and has the potential of being effective in the half of Alzheimer's disease patients who do not make a significant anti-amyloid beta peptide antibody response and without inducing T-cell-mediated encephalitis.

Published studies of 5 patients with sporadic Alzheimer disease treated with intravenous immunoglobulin containing anti-amyloid beta peptide antibodies showed that amyloid beta peptide was mobilized from the brain and cognitive decline was interrupted. Further studies of passive immunotherapy are urgently required to confirm these observations.

Posted by Hyscience at November 15, 2004 8:08 AM



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