Based on previous research by the same authors, this study focuses on the effect of the anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) drug, etanercept, on measures of verbal ability.
TNF-alpha, a critical component of the brain's immune system, normally finely regulates the transmission of neural impulses in the brain.
The researchers hypothesize that elevated levels of TNF-alpha in Alzheimer's disease interfere with this regulation.
To reduce elevated TNF-alpha, the researchers utilized a unique perispinal delivery method to administer etanercept.
The new study provides preliminary evidence that the disrupted neural communication seen in Alzheimer's disease may be reversible.
"There are limitations to the data presented; the clinical trial was open label, and not controlled," lead author Edward Tobinick, as saying.
"These caveats notwithstanding, the scientific rationale for the further investigation of anti-TNF-alpha treatment of Alzheimer's disease is compelling. In addition, family members, independent neurologists, and other independent observers have confirmed the clinical, cognitive, and behavioral improvement noted," he added.
Disruption of language function, such as the ability to find words, is a common symptom in advancing Alzheimer's disease, and the new study is one of the first to suggest the possibility of a new therapeutic approach that may address these symptoms.
The study is published in the open access journal BMC Neurology.