Rheumatoid arthritis treatment can improve Alzheimer symptoms

Lee Han-soo  Published 2019.07.03  18:01  Updated 2019.07.03 18:01


A local research has found that Humira, Abbvie's rheumatoid arthritis drug, can improve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, including memory and spatial cognitive abilities.

CHA Bundang Medical Center in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.

The team, led by Professor Kim Ok-joon, conducted a behavioral study on an animal model that significantly reduced memory by injecting amyloid beta into the hippocampus of a group of mice. Afterward, the researchers divided the mice into three groups – one group that received amyloid beta, one group that received amyloid beta and Humira, and a control group that did not receive amyloid beta.

After the test, the team confirmed that the mice that received Humira had a memory improvement of 63.63 percent while going through a Morris water maze test, a test that measures memory ability, compared to the 45.98 percent of the group that received amyloid beta only.

Also, in the Y-maze test, which measures spatial cognition, memory decline by amyloid beta was improved by 20.46 percent for the group that received Humira.

The team also confirmed that amyloid plaques (74.21 percent), beta-secretase 1 (66.26 percent) and amyloid precursor protein (20 percent), which are proteins that degrade brain cognitive ability, all decreased significantly, as well as suppressing neuroinflammation by 60.1 percent, recovering damaged neurons by 22.9 percent, and increasing brain-derived nerve growth factor (BDNF) by 260.5 percent.

Humira, developed by AbbVie, is the world's most popular treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn's disease, and psoriasis.

It is one of the world's most purchased biomedicine with an estimated 18 trillion won ($15 billion) in annual sales and is Abbvie's top earner, accounting for about 60 percent of its net revenue.

HUMIRA inhibits TNF-α, a molecule that triggers inflammation in the body, and treats rheumatoid arthritis and the like.

Professor Kim used Humira, a drug that inhibits TNA-α, after noting that TNA-α increases, amyloid beta, and tau protein, which cause Alzheimer's disease, also to increase.

"Through this study, we confirmed that Humira, a rheumatoid drug that is widely used and commercially available, is effective against Alzheimer's disease," Professor Kim said. "The team expects that Humira will be applied not only to treating dementia but also to intractable brain diseases such as Parkinson's disease and other brain damages in the future."

The results of the trial were published in Cytotherapy, the official journal of the International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy.

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