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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Health: Alzheimer's Reversal

PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's courtesy of NIH/National Institute On Aging

This is good news indeed, for those of us with aging parents, or, worse yet, those who are feeling the first touch of Alzheimer's. Nasty, nasty disease. And till now there has been no cure, or even treatment, really.

A new scientific study documents marked improvement in Alzheimer’s disease within minutes of administration of a therapeutic molecule, according to the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

The study shows how a cytokine (soluble protein) known as tumor necrosis factor-alpha(TNF), which normally regulates transmission of neural impulses in the brain, interferes with regulation when it is present at elevated levels. The brains and cerebrospinal fluid of Alzheimer's patients show elevated levels of this cytokine.

Injection of an anti-TNF therapeutic called etanercept shows improvement within minutes. Etanercept (trade name Enbrel) binds and inactivates excess TNF. Etanercept is FDA approved to treat a number of immune-mediated disorders and is used off label in the study.

The study was authored by Edward Tobinick M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA and director of the Institute for Neurological Research, with coauthor Hyman Gross, M.D., clinical professor of neurology at USC.

The study is titled “Rapid cognitive improvement in Alzheimer’s disease following perispinal etanercept administration,” and is available with the accompanying commentary, entitled “Perispinal etanercept: Potential as an Alzheimer’s therapeutic,” on the Web site of the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

Let's hope it helps one of our favourite authors, Terry Pratchett.

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