In Alzheimer's disease, brain cells die, and their connections to one another degenerate leading to decline in mental function. The brain changes that occur in Alzheimer's disease are associated with the production and deposition of beta-amyloid plaques. Currently, treatment of Alzheimer's disease focuses on delaying or slowing mental decline and addressing behavioral complications. There are a few U.S. FDA−approved drugs used to treat Alzheimer's disease symptoms. These drugs regulate neurotransmitters, but have limited duration, only work in some patients, and do not address the underlying cause.
Lines of research using younger animal blood plasma to rejuvenate or treat neurological conditions of older animals may seem like a modern science-based vampire story. However, research in laboratory animals has established a link between blood plasma from young animals and the ability to counteract neurodegenerative conditions. In these studies, the cognitive function of older mice improved when injected with blood taken from younger mice.
This research has been extended to humans thus far, and a Phase 1 clinical trial was conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine to test the safety of the infusion of blood plasma from young healthy men in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. The results indicate that the procedure is safe and possibly has an effect on improving daily mental functions such as the ability to prepare meals and remembering to take medications. A larger study is planned to determine its utility as a treatment for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Certain factors in blood plasma are thought to provide the effects of improvement in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, the company Alkahest is developing a proprietary treatment composed of hundreds of proteins from blood plasma for clinical trials. An advantage of this approach is the increased ease of use and no need to match blood types. Although the concept of using blood and blood products to treat conditions is not new, this approach in treating neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease is intriguing and may provide a viable, simpler approach to reverse the effects of aging and degenerative cognitive disorders.
Blood, the Secret Sauce? Focus on Plasma Promises AD Treatment | ALZFORUM. (2018). Alzforum.org. Retrieved 10 January 2018, from https://www.alzforum.org/news/conference-coverage/blood-secret-sauce-focus-plasma-promises-ad-treatment