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Research shows arthritis medication may slow Alzheimer’s

Brain xrayA recent research from the University of Southampton shows that the arthritis medication, etanarcept (Enbrel®), may slow Alzheimer’s disease. The research was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Denmark last week.

In the small control study, a group of 41 patients exhibiting mild or moderate Alzheimer’s was given either the anti-inflammatory medication etanercept or a placebo every week over a period of six months.

Researchers monitored memory function in patients and found that the efficiency of day-to-day activities and behaviour and the symptoms of those who had taken etanercept did not get any worse. In comparison, the placebo group showed signs of decline in memory function.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, lead researcher, Professor Clive Holmes, said:

“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. There are very few studies that have come out with everything moving in the right direction. We have shown that a targeted approach against TNF offers protection against the development of the disease. 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.”

As an arthritis medication, etanercept works by blocking a protein in the body called tumor necrosis factor (TNF), which forms part of the body’s defences against diseases and injuries. According to researchers, the memory function in patients with Alzheimer’s who have high levels of TNF is worse than those with low levels of TNF.

Further and more extensive research is required. The Arthritis Broadcast Network will continue to monitor research in this area and provide updates as they become available.