Gammagard: Ray of Light Shines for Alzheimer’s Treatment?

Gammagard, a ray of light shines for future treatment of Alzheimer's?Is there a ray of light shining upon a new Alzheimer’s disease treatment? The results of a small research study presented this week at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggest there might be and shows that the drug Gammagard may actually be effective in significantly reducing cognitive decline associated with dementia. Four Alzheimer’s patients using Gammagard showed no decline in abilities or cognition over a three year period of time, which is quite rare according to researchers in this New York Times article:

Dr. Norman Relkin of Weill Cornell Medical College, the lead investigator of the study, said the results were “remarkable” because patients with Alzheimer’s disease typically worsen within 12 months.

While more research is needed and the recent results with a relatively small test group are not conclusive, this is an exciting discovery and step in the right direction. There are still so many problems with this drug and kinks to be worked out though:

  • Gammagard is incredibly expensive to produce and administer
  • Gammagard is an antibody harvested from donated blood plasma
  • Currently Gammagard can only be administered intravenously (by IV), there is no pill form
  • Gammagard is already an approved drug used to treat immune disorders
  • Gammagard can at times be in short supply for treating immune disorders and therefore not readily available for the masses afflicted with dementia
  • Side effects of Gammagard include fever, chills, blood clots, and virus transmission

Obviously there is still a long way to go before Gammagard can be approved and used as a successful treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, but it is exciting to know that researchers are achieving some success in finding an effective treatment for this incurable disease. The Gammagard findings offer hope, something sorely lacking with regard to dementia, as noted in this USA Today article:

“I think what Norm’s study shows is we’re moving toward a paradigm shift in how we treat the disease,” said Reisa Sperling, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. “I think ultimately we will find a way to treat and prevent the disease.”

Keep your fingers crossed for gamma-rays of light to shine brightly upon Gammagard to become a viable treatment option, or even better for it to be a discovery contributing to a much needed cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Are you excited about the Gammagard results and its implications for treatment of Alzheimer’s?

Brought To Our Senses family saga novel by Kathleen H. Wheeler

2 thoughts on “Gammagard: Ray of Light Shines for Alzheimer’s Treatment?

  1. Charles Macknee

    Hi Katherine,

    I am excited about anything that can serve to lessen the effects of ADRD, but I would recommend caution about jumping to conclusions, too. One “small research study” does not a “cure” make. We should also be careful not to underestimate the role placebo effects may play in any treatment. Many underlying causes of cognitive decline have been identified, and it is very unlikely that eliminating just one of those will finally solve the problem. It wasn’t all that long ago that we as a society wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in a similar vain search for cancer “cures.”

    Again, the concern I have is that in our rush to find a magic bullet cure we are in a very real sense diverting money, talent, and other resources away from the folks who need help NOW…the sufferers and their families. The situation IS changing for the better; but still over 90% of available funds (!) are currently being used for biomed (pharmaceutical) research, with less than 10% being used to actually help families.

    This needs to change dramatically, as any family caring for someone with ADRD can tell you. Help is especially needed when the afflicted reach the moderate-severe stages, and such help is not cheap, or readily available. Even if we merely changed the ratio from 90-10 to 70-30% it would mean literally millions (billions?) of dollars could become available to assist struggling families directly. What is stopping us from doing that?

    I suspect the main culprit is the pursuit of profit combined with an unrealistic and exaggerated faith in science and medicine to solve not just what we call “Alzheimer’s Disease,” but all our other problems, too. I hope I am wrong…and I hope that we are learning that ADRD is more about lifestyle than it is about bad genes.

    Take care, and remember to exercise along with improving your diet!

    ~Charles Macknee, MA

  2. Kathleen H. Wheeler Post author

    Charles, of course you are right. There is so little hope and few treatments currently with this disease that any news tends to get my hopes up. This may not pan out, it likely will not be the cure. It is just wishful thinking on my part because I truly want to put an end to this disease and its suffering for all. I completely agree more needs to be done for caregivers dealing with Alzheimer’s as they battle long term with a war they just cannot win. Thanks for your comments and insight regarding this latest news.

Comments are closed.