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Newly discovered antibody may be body's natural defense against Alzheimer's

In an important advance in the battle against Alzheimer's disease, physician-scientists at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have identified naturally occurring antibodies in human blood that may help to defend against this form of dementia as well as other neurodegenerative diseases.

The newly found antibodies selectively target aggregates of beta amyloid proteins called "oligomers" that are toxic to brain cells, while ignoring the benign single-molecule forms of the same proteins. The existence of such antibodies was predicted by animal studies, but they were never previously demonstrated to be present in substantial quantities in blood from normal humans.

Lead researcher Dr. Norman Relkin, a behavioral neurologist and neuroscientist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, will present the findings on Monday, June 11, at 3:30 pm, at the "2nd Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Prevention of Dementia," in Washington, DC.

Dr. Relkin is director of the Memory Disorders Program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and associate professor of clinical neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Dr. Relkin's team has been testing an antibody-based immunotherapy called Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) as a potential new treatment for Alzheimer's. IVIG is made from the blood of healthy donors and was previously reported to contain small quantities of antibodies against beta amyloid.

"The effects of IVIG in lowering beta amyloid levels in Alzheimer's patients in our Phase I clinical trial were much more profound than we expected," Dr. Relkin explains. "We couldn't readily explain this based on the low levels of anti-amyloid antibodies known to be present in IVIG. We suspected there might be another, unseen player."

His laboratory studies demonstrated that IVIG initially bound very little single-molecule ("monomer") beta amyloid in a test tube.
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Source:New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center


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