Alzheimers patients improve dramatically with Enbrel - new research

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Alzheimers patients improve dramatically with Enbrel - new research

An extraordinary new scientific study, which for the first time documents marked improvement in Alzheimer’s disease within minutes of administration of a therapeutic molecule, has just been published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

This new study highlights the importance of certain soluble proteins, called cytokines, in Alzheimer’s disease.

The study focuses on one of these cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-alpha(TNF), a critical component of the brain’s immune system. Normally, TNF finely regulates the transmission of neural impulses in the brain. The authors hypothesized that elevated levels of TNF in Alzheimer’s disease interfere with this regulation.

To reduce elevated TNF, the authors gave patients an injection of an anti-TNF therapeutic called etanercept. Excess TNF-alpha has been documented in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Alzheimer’s.

The new study documents a dramatic and unprecedented therapeutic effect in an Alzheimer’s patient: improvement within minutes following delivery of perispinal etanercept, which is etanercept given by injection in the spine.

Etanercept (trade name Enbrel) binds and inactivates excess TNF. Etanercept is FDA approved to treat a number of immune-mediated disorders and is used off label in the study.

The use of anti-TNF therapeutics as a new treatment choice for many diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and potentially even Alzheimer’s, was recently chosen as one of the top 10 health stories of 2007 by the Harvard Health Letter.

Walter Skotchdopole worked for 20 years as a police officer and 20 years in the film industry before succumbing to the relentless decline of Alzheimer's disease. In his prime, he joked with everyone he met. By his early 70s, he had become a shell of his former self.

"He's there, but he's not," says his son James Skotchdopole. "There's no real interaction, no real stake in life."

Walter Skotchdopole had tried several drugs, with no noticeable improvement. But when he began experimental treatments with Enbrel (etanercept) — a drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis — it was as if someone flipped a switch.

Within minutes of his first injection, he was making jokes. Later that afternoon, he ditched his cane to dance with a worker at his assisted-living facility. After a year and a half of weekly injections, Skotchdopole still gets confused sometimes, but requires far less help than he used to.

"The results we've seen are unprecedented with any kind of treatment," says Dr. Edward Tobinick, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA who led a recent pilot study of Enbrel's effects on 15 Alzheimer's patients.

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By netchicken: posted on 10-1-2008

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