A new treatment for Alzheimer's could halt deterioration in people with early symptoms of the disease, a limited human trial has shown. The treatment, called the "most exciting drug in development" by scientists, is currently prescribed to people with immune system problems but could have a significant impact on the quality of life of Alzheimer's sufferers, the trial suggests.
The drug, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg), prevented the decline in cognitive skills, memory and the ability to live independently, among patients with mild to moderate symptoms of Alzheimer's. Those who took a placebo continued to decline. The small number of patients who took the highest dose of the drug for three years showed no decline in memory.
Medical experts said the drug could be used to treat Alzheimer's within a decade and was "probably the most exciting drug we know about that is currently in the late stages of research".
Dementia is one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS, with one in three people developing the disease – for which there is no cure – after the age of 65.
IVIg contains antibodies from blood donors and is normally used in the treatment of the immune system and serious infections. In the study of 16 patients carried out by Weill Cornell medical college in New York, the 11 patients taking various doses of the IVIg drug Gammagard showed more positive results than those who were taking a placebo. The five patients who were not initially given the drug declined more slowly after they were switched to Gammagard. The four participants originally given the highest dose and kept on that dose for three years showed no decline in cognition.
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Alzheimer's Drug IVIg Could Halt Sufferers' Decline