Reversing cognitive deficits: Injectable antibody may attack source of problem

October 8, 2007

A special protein can be injected into the body to reverse learning problems in mice that have an animal version of Alzheimer’s disease, Saint Louis University researchers have found.

The protein -- part of the immunoglobulin M (IgM) class -- is an antibody that grabs onto the amyloid beta protein in the brain and prevents it from changing into the toxic substance believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our research in an animal model showed that antibodies can be developed rationally for treating Alzheimer’s disease,” says William A. Banks, M.D. professor of geriatrics and pharmacological and physiological science at Saint Louis University. “It’s a major thing that people have been trying to do -- get antibodies into the brain in the right amount to treat illnesses. This antibody does that.”

Banks says the findings are surprising because IgM is five times bigger than the antibody immunoglobulin G (IgG), which has already been studied as a potential therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.

Because it is larger, scientists didn’t believe it could cross the blood- brain barrier, a protective membrane that keeps foreign substances out of the brain.

“We collaborated with Michael Steinitz from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who developed an antibody that is part of the IgM class of antibodies that would stick better to amyloid beta protein,” says Banks, who also is a staff physician at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis Banks says.

“This compound had better entry to the brain than IgG, even though they are smaller.”

A single intravenous dose of IgM reversed cognitive impairment in aged mice that have a genetic mutation that causes deficits similar to those found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Banks says.

The findings were published in the August issue of Experimental Neurology.

Source: Saint Louis University

Explore further: Alzheimer's research pinpoints antibodies that may prevent disease

Related Stories

Paving the way toward a vaccine against Alzheimer's disease

June 21, 2007

Scientists have provided new details about how proteins used to destroy bacteria and viruses may help treat Alzheimer’s disease. Gunnar K. Gouras, associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Weill Medical College ...

Study suggests blood test for Alzheimer's possible

March 11, 2009

Researchers have revealed a direct relationship between two specific antibodies and the severity of Alzheimer's disease symptoms, raising hopes that a diagnostic blood test for the devastating disorder is within reach.

New results, trial for Alzheimer's vaccine

May 9, 2005

Training the body's immune system to fight back against Alzheimer's disease may still offer a promising option for slowing or even preventing the tragic brain disorder that affects 4.5 million Americans.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


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.