Immunotherapy for Alzheimer's
Gretchen Heuring for ElderThink
Immunotherapy is a medical treatment designed to produce immunity to a disease or to enhance resistance by the immune system. In other words, it coaxes our bodies to fight off a disease. Examples would be polio or chicken box vaccine. In response to immunotherapy, we develop immunity by producing antibodies that guard against invading organisms. An immunotherapy program for Alzheimer's is highly desirable. Imagine a vaccine for Alzheimer's.
Bapineuzumab (pronounced bap-ee-nue-zoo-mab) was discontinued in late 2013 after clinical trials revealed that it was not effective in the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease. Bapineuzumab is an antibody that has possible value for treatment of Alzheimer's because it acts against beta-amyloid, the plaque that causes Alzheimer's. Bapineuzumab was being developed as a drug by Élan, an Irish pharmaceutical company, in collaboration with Wyeth. Janssen, an affiliate of Johnson and Johnson is also collaborating on the development of this drug.
There has been great hope for another drug called Gantenerumab (pronounced gan-te-ner-u-mab), but progress is slow. Gantenerumab is the first entirely human antibody to be introduced to clinical trials.
Another immunotherapy drug called Gammagard, developed by Baxter Laboratories, has been used for immunodeficiency for several years. This means that it has been effective for people with various immune defiency diseases. A clinical trial to discover if it will help the development of antibodies for beta-amyloid (Alzheimer's) was conducted in 2013. The trial was not successful.
There are other drugs in various stages of research and development. Teams of researchers from different drug companies have joined forces to try to find a solution. It's possible that we could have an Alzheimer's vaccine in the next few years.