Washington, Jan 10 : A new study has highlighted the marked improvements in Alzheimer's disease within minutes of administration of a therapeutic molecule.
The study, led by Edward Tobinick M.D., an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles and director of the Institute for Neurological Research, documents the importance of certain soluble proteins, called cytokines, in the disease.
The study focuses on one of these cytokines, Tumour Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF), a critical component of the brain's immune system. Normally, TNF finely regulates the transmission of neural impulses in the brain.
The researchers conjectured that elevated levels of TNF in Alzheimer's disease interfere with this regulation. To reduce elevated TNF, the scientists gave patients an injection of an anti-TNF therapeutic called etanercept. Excess TNF-alpha has been documented in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer's.
The study found a dramatic and unprecedented therapeutic effect in an Alzheimer's patient - improvement within minutes following delivery of perispinal etanercept, which is etanercept given by injection in the spine.
Etanercept binds and inactivates excess TNF. It is FDA approved to treat a number of immune-mediated disorders.
Sue Griffin, Ph.D., director of research at the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock and at the Geriatric Research and Clinical Centre at the VA Hospital in Little Rock and study's co-author said: "It is unprecedented that we can see cognitive and behavioural improvement in a patient with established dementia within minutes of therapeutic intervention," said Griffin. "It is imperative that the medical and scientific communities immediately undertake to further investigate and characterize the physiologic mechanisms involved.
This gives all of us in Alzheimer's research a tremendous new clue about new avenues of research, which is so exciting and so needed in the field of Alzheimer's. Even though this report predominantly discusses a single patient, it is of significant scientific interest because of the potential insight it may give into the processes involved in the brain dysfunction of Alzheimer's."
The study is published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.