Arthritis drug shown to slow Alzheimer's down

July 17, 2014, University of Southampton
Arthritis drug shown to slow Alzheimer’s down
Early results from University of Southampton.

(Medical Xpress)—A drug that is commonly used for arthritis has been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer's.

A small randomised control study at the University of Southampton tested the drug Etanercept on patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's.

Forty-one participants were either given the drug or a placebo every week for six months. They were then assessed for memory function, efficiency of day-to-day activities and behaviour.

Results showed that patients who were given Etanercept did not get any worse during the six month follow up compared to those on the placebo, who did decline.

Professor Clive Holmes, who led the study, is presenting the results at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Denmark. He comments: "Our results are better than we expected. We have shown that using Etanercept in patients who have Alzheimer's disease would be safe and has positive outcomes after six months. However this is a small study and should now be tested in a larger clinical trial."

Alzheimer's and other dementias affect 820,000 people in the UK. Around 23 million of the UK population have a close friend or family member with dementia. As well as the huge personal cost, dementia costs the UK economy £23 billion a year, more than cancer and heart disease combined.

Etanercept works by blocking the effects of a protein in the blood called TNFα which is released by blood cells as part on the body's inflammatory response. Professor Holmes' group has already shown that people with Alzheimer's that have high levels of active TNFα in their blood do worse than those who have very low levels. Etanercept acts to markedly reduce the active levels of TNFα.

Professor Holmes adds: "A large number of anti-inflammatory approaches have been tried in patients with established Alzheimer's, but with little evidence of efficacy. There are very few studies that have come out with everything moving in the right direction. We have shown that a targeted approach against TNFα offers protection against the development of the disease. Our study was small and lasted for six months so it needs to be developed further, however our projections suggest that the benefits would continue. This now needs to be tested."

Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK, the UK's leading dementia research charity, says: "After many years of research into the role of the immune system in Alzheimer's, led by the team in Southampton, it's promising to see a compound targeting this process showing encouraging early results in people. While we still await the full report of the findings, Etanercept, a drug already recommended for use in arthritis, appeared to be well tolerated by the Alzheimer's patients enrolled into the trial.

"This is a good example of research implicating a mechanism in the disease – in this case systemic inflammation – narrowing down a potential target and using a compound against that target to test a hypothesis. However, we know that clinical trials have a high failure rate and so we need to see Etanercept tested further in larger and longer trials in Alzheimer's disease."

Explore further: Significant step towards blood test for Alzheimer's

Related Stories

Significant step towards blood test for Alzheimer's

July 7, 2014
Scientists have identified a set of 10 proteins in the blood which can predict the onset of Alzheimer's, marking a significant step towards developing a blood test for the disease. The study, led by King's College London ...

Taking B vitamins won't prevent Alzheimer's disease

July 15, 2014
Taking B vitamins doesn't slow mental decline as we age, nor is it likely to prevent Alzheimer's disease, conclude Oxford University researchers who have assembled all the best clinical trial data involving 22,000 people ...

Compounded outcomes associated with comorbid Alzheimer's disease, cerebrovascular disease

July 3, 2014
Researchers from the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky have been able to confirm anecdotal information on patients with both Alzheimer's disease (AD) and cerebrovascular disease (CVD) using mouse ...

AAIC: Alzheimer's rate falling in the united states

July 16, 2014
(HealthDay)—The number of new cases of dementia has been declining in recent decades in the United States, Germany, and other developed countries, a trio of new studies shows. The three studies are being presented Tuesday ...

Secukinumab effective in moderate-to-severe psoriasis

July 11, 2014
(HealthDay)—For patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, the fully human anti-interleukin-17A monoclonal antibody, secukinumab, is effective, according to research published online July 9 in the New England Journal ...

AAIC: A healthy lifestyle may deflect dementia

July 17, 2014
(HealthDay)—Seniors at risk for dementia may help safeguard their memory and ability to think by adopting a healthier lifestyle, a new study from Finland suggests. The study findings were presented this week at the Alzheimer's ...

Recommended for you

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?

January 12, 2018
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of ...

One of the most promising drugs for Alzheimer's disease fails in clinical trials

January 11, 2018
To the roughly 400 clinical trials that have tested some experimental treatment for Alzheimer's disease and come up short, we can now add three more.

Different disease types associated with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains found in Alzheimer's patients

January 9, 2018
An international team of researchers has found different disease type associations with distinct amyloid-beta prion strains in the brains of dead Alzheimer's patients. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National ...

Advances in brain imaging settle debate over spread of key protein in Alzheimer's

January 5, 2018
Recent advances in brain imaging have enabled scientists to show for the first time that a key protein which causes nerve cell death spreads throughout the brain in Alzheimer's disease - and hence that blocking its spread ...

Molecular mechanism behind HIV-associated dementia revealed

January 5, 2018
For the first time, scientists have identified and inhibited a molecular process that can lead to neurodegeneration in patients with HIV, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in Nature Communications.

Mice with frequent flier miles advance the Alzheimer's cause

January 4, 2018
Alzheimer's disease wreaks emotional havoc on patients, who are robbed of their memories, their dignity, and their lives. It's financially devastating as well: care for Alzheimer's patients is predicted to top $1 trillion ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.