Investigators from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York conducted a study in which they reviewed the medical records of 847 people who had received at least one treatment of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy over a four-year period for a variety of conditions, including immune deficiencies, leukemia or other types of cancer, anemia and other diseases. Then, using records pulled from a database of 20 million patients aged 65 or older developed by SDI Health, they compared those results against 84,700 who were not given IVIg treatment.
Those people who had received IVIg were shown to have a 42 percent lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease over the four years, compared to those who had not undergone IVIg therapy. Specifically, 2.8 percent of those treated with IVIg developed Alzheimer’s disease, while 4.8 percent of those not treated with immune-based therapy developed the brain disorder.
“In our study, we looked at the association of the use of intravenous immunoglobulin with the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. IVIg has been used safely for more than 20 years to treat other diseases, but is thought to have an indirect effect on Alzheimer’s disease by targeting beta-amyloid, or plaques in the brain,” says Howard Fillit, M.D. of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “Our study provides evidence that previous IVIg treatments may protect against Alzheimers disease. The current Alzheimers drugs on the market treat the symptoms of the disease. Immunization could treat the underlying cause,” suggests Dr. Fillit.
A large-scale clinical trial is now underway to determine whether IVIg therapy could be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s. According to information published at www.clinicaltrials.gov, the purpose of the study is “to determine whether Immune Globulin Intravenous (IGIV), 10% treatment, administered at two different doses for 9 and 18 months, results in a significantly slower rate of decline of dementia symptoms in subjects with mild to moderate Alzheimer´s disease.”