Saturday, August 9, 2008

Experimental Antibody Shows Promise for Alzheimer’s Treatment

Scientists, using an experimental antibody, have successfully dissolved amyloid beta (Aβ) plaque in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The presence of Aβ plaque in the brain has long been thought to precede the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The results of a Phase 2 study show such promise that Phase 3 trials are expected in 2009.

The agent (LY2062430, Eli Lilly), was given to patients intravenously, without safety issues according to the results, presented at the 2008 Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease. The antibody successfully adhered to Aβ protein in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, facilitating removal of the detrimental deposits.

Eric Siemers, MD, medical director of the Alzheimer's disease research team at Eli Lilly says, “There was a dose response, so that patients who received more of the agent had less "free" Aβ in the blood. The effect of the antibody on the brain appears to be indirect. The team explained that as the antibody began to work, levels of Aβ in the cerebrospinal fluid began to increase. "We had to stop and think about this, and we realized that the most likely explanation for these elevated [Aβ] levels [in the CSF] was because the antibody was starting to dissolve brain plaques. The bottom line here is the results look quite good, and we didn't see any problem with this antibody," he said.

The 52 patients studied did not show any improvement in cognition, but the team says they are not surprised, given the short duration of the trial. Phase 3 trials will reveal whether the antibody will provide effective treatment for dementia. The researchers, in moving forward, say, "Based on the central safety profile and what we feel are compelling biomarker data, we've made a decision to go on to phase 3 with this antibody and will be starting a phase 3 study in 2009."

What you can do to Manage Your Risks of Alzheimer’s Disease

Remain physically active. According to William Thies, PhD, vice president of Medical and Scientific Relations for the Alzheimer’s Association, “Growing evidence shows that physical exercise does not have to be strenuous or require a major time commitment. It is most effective when done regularly, and in combination with a brain-healthy diet, mental activity and social interaction."(1)

Engage in regular social interaction. Married people, and those in a couple’s relationship in mid-life, have a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Manage stress, control your risk of heart disease through diet, medication, regular exercise, and stress relief techniques (meditation, Yoga, massage, pain control and group interaction). Recently discovered risk factors for dementia include excessive worry, or ruminating about problems, and the presence of metabolic syndrome (cardiovascular related symptoms – obesity, high blood pressure, glucose intolerance, and dyslipidemia).(2)

Immediate lifestyle changes have repeatedly been shown to reduce our risk of major illness, even decades from now.

Source: ICAD 2008: Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease: Abstract 08-A-2053-ALZ. Presented July 30, 2008.

(1) New Research Shows That People With Better Physical Fitness Have Less Brain Atrophy in Alzheimer's
(2) Lifestyle Factors Contribute to Lowering and Raising Risk of Alzheimer's Disease