Gammagard Therapy Offers Hope for Alzheimer’s Patients

Gammagard therapy offers hope for Alzheimer’s patients

Although it’s still in a testing phase, the first long-term treatment shown to halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease is being hailed Tuesday by experts at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2012 in Vancouver.

The treatment is an immune therapy called IVIG/Gammagard that has been given intravenously for three years to a small group of participants. The findings on the treatment, made by Baxter International, follow a frustrating nine-year research period during which no new therapies have been discovered for the incurable brain-wasting disease affecting 5.4 million people in the United States.

The participants did not show improvement in most of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s they already had, but nor did they show any further decline on measures of cognition, memory, daily functioning or mood over the three years.

Alzheimer’s is a fatal illness that progresses slowly over years before wiping away personality, memory and cognition. No therapy on the market has stopped the deterioration caused by the disease.

“If the final trial is successful this will provide a direction for treatment,” said study leader Norman Relkin of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. “The key thing right now is to find an Achilles’ heel for the disease. The disease has to have a vulnerability.”

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