Finding a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease has been an arduous and frustrating experience for those who research pharmacologic treatments for disease. Preventing and reversing the disease is almost universally agreed to be impossible, and even heavy research in slowing or stopping the progression of the disease has been largely fruitless.

But three potential treatments stand as a possible means of stopping the development of Alzheimer's disease—unconventional antibodies made by the immune system, and developed into various drugs: Bapineuzumab, Solanezumab and Gammagard.


Bapineuzumab was constructed to constrict and eliminate certain peptides in the brain, with a projected eventual ability to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, and glaucoma as a possible secondary use. The drug started garnering attention when it ascended into phase three testing trials in 2007, leveraged by the major drug firms Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

Unfortunately, despite the excitement surrounding the possible treatment, the results of the drug's testing have shown it to be ineffective. In scientific studies, the drug was tested for its ability to improve cognitive function and physical ability, compared against a control group that was given a placebo.

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In July, the first major trial was announced to have failed, with the outcome showing no significant difference between Bapineuzumab and placebo. Though Bapineuzumab has been scrapped as a failure, scientists hope to use insights from the study to move forward in more successful directions.


Solanezumab, a similar antibody, is currently being investigated for its use as a neuroprotector. Neuroprotectors are treatment options that aim to slow a mental disease's progression, by stopping or decreasing the rate at which neurons are lost. Phase two tests of the drug were moderately successful, attenuating memory gaps in mice without any major health-related side effects. The drug has been moved to phase three testing.

Results have not yet been reported, and many researchers are hopeful, yet cautiously skeptical of the passive vaccine's ability to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Results are expected to be announced by October 2012.


The third antibody treatment in question is Gammagard, which intravenously works as an antibody agent, similar to the two drugs described above. The drug is already on the market, but has been subjected to further testing before being approved as an effective treatment for Alzheimer's.

Its most recent trials have been extremely positive. Four patients, studied over a three-year period, showed no cognitive deterioration over the course of the trial—even though patients with Alzheimer's disease usually begin to worsen within the first year. However, the narrow scope of the study has questioned whether the drug was directly responsible. Phase three testing is continuing, with formal results expected by early 2013.

Hope For Future Success

These three antibody treatments have caught attention in both the pharmaceutical industry and the general population for their promising ability to treat—or at least slow the progression—of Alzheimer's.

While Bapineuzumab has been ruled out as a long-term possibility, Solanezumab's full results should be announced soon, and Gammagard's highly anticipated phase three results will be in by 2013.