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A new Alzheimer's treatment in an old remedy?

July 23, 2009 |  8:19 am

Given the difficulty of finding medications to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease, wouldn't it be terrific if a remedy were found among established therapies?

That is a possibility. According to a study published in the new issue of the journal Neurology, people who receive intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatments for conditions such as leukemia, anemia and other diseases seem to have lower rates of developing Alzheimer's disease. Intravenous immunoglobulin treatments contain healthy antibodies that are infused into the blood stream to boost a person's immune system.

The study compared 847 people who were given at least one treatment of intravenous immunoglobulin over four years and 84,700 similar people who were not given the treatment. The records were pulled from a database of 20 million people age 65 and older. Those who received the immunoglobulin had a 42% lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease over four years compared to those who did not receive the drug.

"These findings do not constitute an endorsement of IVIg treatment for Alzheimer's disease," the researchers said. "A large-scale clinical trial is underway to determine whether IVIg could be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's."

Immunoglobulin may target the plaques in the brain found in Alzheimer's disease.

-- Shari Roan