This is no hoax. The end of Alzheimer?s could be in sight. A drug the FDA has approved for psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis improved cognition within minutes in a patient with advanced Alzheimer?s disease.
That?s right. Minutes. This means that an effective treatment for the people we know and love who have this deteriorating disease could be on its way.
Researchers in Southern California injected an anti-inflammatory drug called Entanercept (or Enbrel) in the patient?s spine, and the results could be seen immediately. Other patients not discussed in this article with mild to severe Alzheimer?s given this treatment had the same lasting results. The study has been published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroinflammation (www.jneuroinflammation.com).
Here?s how it works.
There are protein molecules called cytokines that allow cells to talk to one another. One of these is tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), considered to be the body?s "master regulator." Too much TNF-alpha has been found in the spinal fluid of Alzheimer?s patients. Entanercept attaches itself to TNF-alpha and turns its signals off, reducing its amounts and inflammation.
"It is unprecedented that we can see cognitive and behavioral improvement in a patient with established dementia within minutes of therapeutic intervention," said Sue Griffin, one of the editors-in-chief of the Journal of Neuroinflammation, and a pioneer in this field.
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The medical community is beginning to recognize something I?ve talked about for years. Inflammation is at the core of many serious illnesses, such as heart disease, arthritis, infections, colitis, periodontitis … the list goes on and on. Now we?re seeing an association between Alzheimer?s disease and inflammation. This should be no surprise.
While foods and anti-inflammatory nutrients won?t calm down inflammation in the spinal fluid like Entanercept, it certainly makes sense to use them preventively.
Begin with your diet. Particular substances encourage inflammation, like sugar, omega-6 fats (in corn, safflower, and peanut oils), and those nasty trans-fats in many prepared snacks. Stop using them.
Antioxidants and omega-3 fats found in fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and flax oil, are good additions to your daily diet and could be helpful in slowing down any progression to Alzheimer?s. Look through my website for more specific information on inflammation. It?s free of charge to all newsletter subscribers - and could be worth the cost of a subscription if you?re not getting my monthly newsletter.
Here?s a thought. Perhaps a lifetime of eating pro-inflammatory foods is the reason Alzheimer?s affects us as we get older.
Meanwhile, I expect we?ll see Entanercept eventually approved for use in Alzheimer?s patients for one reason. Enbrel powder and liquid are being co-marketed by two pharmaceutical companies, Amgen and Wyeth. Wyeth is hurting financially from the bad press given to one of their best-sellers: Provera. So I?m sure we?ll be hearing a lot more about this drug.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Tobinick, E.L., and H. Gross. "Rapid cognitive improvement in Alzheimer?s disease following perispinal entanercept administration," Journal of Neuroinflammation, January 9, 2008.
Griffin, WST, "Perispinal etanercept: Potential as an Alzheimer therapeutic," Journal of Inflammation, January 10, 2008.