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Study: Arthritis Drug Shows Promise in Reversing Symptoms of Alzheimer's

A patient with Alzheimer's disease had their condition improve hugely just minutes after receiving a special injection of a prescription drug approved to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions, according to a new study.

The drug, co-marketed in the U.S. by Amgen and Wyeth under the name Enbrel, dramatically reversed symptoms of an Alzheimer’s disease sufferer minutes after it was injected into the patient's spine, researchers in the U.S. discovered. The drug, sold in Australia as Etanercept, has also been used off-label for treating Alzheimer's.

A report on the new study appeared in the Journal of Neuroinflammation this week.

Click here for the full study

Journal editor Professor Sue Griffin from the University of Arkansas said the study was an “exciting” breakthrough, which provided a greater understanding of the disease. “It is unprecedented that we can see cognitive and behavioral improvement in a patient with established dementia within minutes of therapeutic intervention,” Griffin said.

“This gives all of us in Alzheimer’s research a tremendous new clue about new avenues of research, which is so exciting and so needed in the field of Alzheimer’s.

“Even though this report predominantly discusses a single patient, it is of significant scientific interest because of the potential insight it may give into the processes involved in the brain dysfunction of Alzheimer’s.”

Professor Edward Tobinick from the University of California and Professor Hyman Gross from the University of Southern California made the discovery while treating a patient who developed Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

“The efficacy of (Enbrel) … delivered by perispinal administration, for treatment of Alzheimer's disease over a period of six months has been previously reported in a pilot study,” the researchers said.

“(But) this report details rapid cognitive improvement, beginning within minutes, using this same… treatment modality, in a patient with late-onset Alzheimer's disease.”