How Antibody Therapy Research Could Help Patients With Alzheimer’s

dementia patientThis is a guest post by Sam Rubinchik.

Antibodies have been used in treatment of patients with Alzheimer’s disease as they are known to affect the plaque buildups that cause symptoms. The prevention of plaque accumulation in mice has been noted with antibody therapy, however the removal of preexisting plaques has been unsuccessful thus far. This prompted modification of experimental antibodies to target a specific source in hopes of clearing preexisting plaque proteins. 

Alzheimer’s May Be Caused By Protein Plaque Buildup In The Brain

Amyloid Beta protein buildups are thought to play a role in causing Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment of the disease has therefore been aimed at reducing or neutralizing those plaques in the hopes that they will break down and be eliminated from the body. In Alzheimer’s patients, the plaques become hard, insoluble protein pieces and block nerve transmission. Some physicians believe such plaque buildup occurs ten years prior to the beginning symptoms of cognitive decline. By this time it is thought that plaque levels have neared maximum concentrations in the brain.

Antibodies Can Prevent Plaque Buildup

Immunotherapy for Alzheimer’s is a developing treatment with some promising results. So far, the primary approach has been to use antibodies to clear plaques that are both soluble and insoluble. This approach has been successful at preventing plaque buildup in mice that have been deemed likely candidates to accumulate plaque. However, this treatment produced no benefit for older mice that already had plaque built up, and there were side effects

Modified Antibodies Can Clear Out Insoluble Protein Plaque.

Researchers hypothesized that these antibodies could not remove plaques that had already built up as they became saturated with plaque proteins as soon as they entered the brain, and therefore could not bind to their target. A genetically modified antibody was developed to adhere to the plaque that preexisted, and significant clearance of this plaque was noticed without any hemorrhage or other side effects. A control antibody that bound to both soluble and insoluble plaques did not reduce preexisting plaque and also caused side effects. The results propose that their hypothesis from the initial findings were correct; an antibody that attaches only to insoluble plaques will clear buildups that have already occurred, and do so without side effects. This explains why the Alzheimer’s drug Bapineuzumab was no more effective than placebo in two recent late-stage trials; Bapineuzumab binds to both insoluble and soluble plaques.

Precisely targeted medications can avoid side effects.

These findings further support the growing scientific precedent that indicates that highly specific drugs are more effective at producing desired results with fewer side effects. This is especially noted in management of chronic pain as most moderate to severe pain is addressed with opioid medication. These medications can affect large portions of the Central Nervous System and leave the patient lethargic, groggy and cognitively-compromised when the only desired result was reduction in pain. The more accurately a medicine can specifically target one part of the body, the fewer complications will arise.

Author Bio: Sam Rubinchik has been studying Alzheimer’s for the past 7 years and is passionate about helping others who are suffering from this disease. For more information on antibody companies visit abgent.com.

Photo credit: dementia patient image courtesy of Vince Alongi via photopin cc

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