Intravenous doses of immunoglobulin could open up a new treatment option to prevent certain conditions associated with Alzheimer’s’ disease, new research has shown.

Animal trials and short spells of clinical studies have caused scientists to believe that shots of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) have the power to reduce the level of amyloid-beta-peptide in the cerebrospinal fluid.

This produces beneficial effects on the cognitive functions, thus supporting amyloid clearance theories, according to published reports about the research. Alzheimer’s disease is known to develop due to the deposition of amyloid-beta-peptide plaques in the brain.

As part of the studies conducted by Octapharma, scientists analyzed data over a four-year period to find that previous treatment with IVIG was associated with a 42 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, compared to patients who were not treated with IVIG.

In a related development, studies were conducted by a Swedish research group during a nationwide survey on satisfaction with intravenous immunoglobulin therapy. They retrospectively analyzed medical data of 237 patients above 65 years who were regularly treated with IVIG due to their immune deficiency.

Based on data about the general prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in Sweden, it was expected that at least 13 patients would be found the disease in this specific population. However, researchers made an interesting find that none of the 237 patients suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

Octapharma is the company that manufactures Octagam, a five percent (50 mg/mL) immunoglobulin (human) solution for intravenous administration (IVIG) that is currently registered in about 60 countries, including the United States and the European Union.

Currently, IVIG is being tested in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease to evaluate its efficacy in preventing its progression. IVIG is administered every two weeks for a period of 18 months amongst the sample group of patients.

"What we are looking and hoping for is to slow down the rate of decline or stop it completely," says Brigid Reynolds, Memory Disorders Program coordinator at Georgetown University Hospital.