For yet another example of the trend toward teaching old drugs new tricks, check out Exhibit E for Enbrel. According to research released today, the anti-rheumatoid arthritis med has shown an amazing ability to rehabilitate Alzheimer's patients.
Made by Amgen, Enbrel is a TNF-alpha inhibitor, and excess TNF-alpha has been found in the cerebrospinal fluid of Alzheimer's patients. Previous research has shown that Enbrel injected into the spine of patients can cause marked improvement in symptoms that lasts up to six months. The new data , published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, focuses on one man whose relief began within 10 minutes of the injection. Suddenly, he could remember things he'd been unable to recall before treatment, and his score on a common symptom assessment more than doubled.
Much larger studies are needed before any talk of getting a new indication for Enbrel--or its TNF-inhibitor counterparts Humira, made by Abbott Laboratories, and Remicade, made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Centocor. But don't expect this sort of research to stop with Alzheimer's. Considering the role inflammation plays in many diseases, we may see researchers throwing TNF-alpha inhibitors at all sorts of conditions, just to see what might stick.
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