July 19, 2006

An 18-month study at Weill Cornell Medical School, New York, has found that treatment with antibodies halted the development of Alzheimer's disease in six out of eight patients. The researchers found that in some cases this treatment managed to slightly reverse the disease. Current drugs do not stop the disease's progression.

The antibody is produced naturally by the human body. In this study, patients received intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg). IVIg consists of many antibodies from the blood of thousands of healthy donors. IVIg is commonly used for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The IVIg in this trial was donated by Baxter International.

It is thought that beta amyloid, a protein, is responsible for the destruction of brain cells. While some of us are able to produce enough antibodies to combat this protein, others are not. As brain cells die,memory suffers. People who produce antibodies to combat beta amyloid have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. IVIg is thought to speed up the elimination of beta amyloid from the human body.