Effective Alzheimer treatment: The nose knows

08/04/05

Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common form of senile dementia, with no effective treatment available. In a study appearing online on August 11 in advance of print publication of the September 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Howard Weiner and colleagues from Harvard describe a novel immunologic approach for the treatment of AD.

Previous studies utilizing immunization against Abeta, a key pathogenic player in AD, to generate antibodies against Abeta were discontinued because of unacceptable side effects in AD patients.

Here, the researchers use a specific nasal vaccination to decrease AD burden in mice. The vaccine consists of an FDA-approved drug currently used to treat multiple sclerosis (called glatiramer acetate) plus a recently developed nasal adjuvant that has been shown to be safe in humans and activates microglia, cells which then clear beta-amyloid in the brain without evidence of toxic effects.

The findings have both basic and clinically relevant implications. The discovery of a non-antibody mediated method to clear Abeta could be used as a treatment for patients who already are showing signs of AD. Moreover, the compounds used have already been safely tested in humans.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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