19 July 2012
LONDON Researchers have hailed a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease after a trial successfully halted the mental decline associated with the condition for a period of three years.
Researchers found that patients who had injections every two weeks of the drug immunoglobulin, made from antibodies in human blood, showed no decline in cognition, memory, daily functioning or mood.
Immunoglobulin is normally given to patients who suffer from an immune deficiency, but it has also been found to protect the brains of those with early stage Alzheimer’s. Each dose is extracted from the plasma of 1,000 blood donors.
"This is probably the most exciting drug we know about that is currently in the late stages of research," the Independent quoted Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, as saying.
"The real test will be whether these initial promising results can subsequently be replicated in larger groups," he said.
Just 24 patients were tested with the drug in the study, who were given varying doses of the drug over different periods. A larger study is now underway.
"If the phase 3 trials are successful, and it can be made cost effective, this drug could be on the shelves within 10 years," Ballard said.
However, the difficulty of producing immunoglobulin means it is not cheap, costing thousands of pounds per patient.
The findings of the study were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, Canada. ANI