Here it goes! The last post of the year!
Exciting and perhaps groundbreaking results from the study The antibody aducanumab reduces Aβ plaques in Alzheimer’s disease reveal what may be a possible treatment for the deteriorating Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid-Beta plaque formation are key indicators of Alzheimer’s. The study performed research on the Aducanumab antibody, which is something in our bodies designed to fight off pathogens when helping our immune systems, which demonstrated success after being tested for on subjects for a whole year. Using this antibody in therapy could possibly reduce memory loss in a dose dependent fashion (Sevigny et al. 2016).
Previously, old therapies were not successful in removing plaques, however this study was successful in causing a decrease in the amount of existing plaques, at least in some of the participants that they tested (Sevigny et al. 2016). Aducanumab was developed by the company Biogen, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, found when observing human memory B cells that made these antibodies which could bind the amyloid plaques.
The aim of the trial was to find an adequate, yet safe, dosage of the antibodies that could clear these harmful plaques. A total of 165 participants between the years of 50 and 90, with either a mild form of Alzheimer’s or prodromal Alzheimer’s, Alzheimer’s with lots of asymptomatic plaque build up, were tested. This was a double blind, placebo using experiment. One group was set up as a control, receiving a placebo, while the experimental group received one of the four dosages of Aducanumab, depending on their body weight of 1, 3, 6 or 10 mg (Sevigny et al. 2016). Afterwards, the researchers gave the placebo or antibody through an infusion 14 times over the span of four weeks. However, only about 20 individuals stayed as patients dropped out throughout the study (Sevigny et al. 2016).
Scans were done on the subjects in order to see how they were doing with the new treatment. Amyloid actually absorbs Florbetapir, so they used this see how the plaques changed. The scientists found that plaques ultimately shrank and the higher the dose administered, the better the results were. The Amyloid Beta plaques seemed to decrease in amount as well (Sevigny et al. 2016).
Additionally, the study performed this testing on mice as well, to further explore the effects in larger numbers. They found that as Aducanumab bonded, cells in the brain were activated to eat up Amyloid Beta plaques (Sevigny et al. 2016).
Some tests were given that asked participants to answer a series of questions, however it was inconclusive as some revealed what could have been a decrease in cognitive decline while other tests didn’t reveal anything (Sevigny et al. 2016).
Like other drugs, Aducanumab treatment had a noticeable adverse side effect called ARIA, or an amyloid-related imaging anomaly. Basically, it indicates more fluid found in a part of the brain which could signal a hemorrhage. Those that received higher dosages of the antibody showed more cases of the negative symptom, among which were headache and urinary tract infections. At 10 mg, 41% of patients developed ARIA. Scientists don’t exactly understand the reasons why ARIA forms (Sevigny et al. 2016). Thus, in future studies, they aim at managing these side effects because the benefits to the drug are immense and could really help our society as a whole and those who are suffering with this neurodegenerative disease.
Upon reflection, writing a summary on my particular research article “The antibody aducanumab reduces Aβ plaques in Alzheimer’s disease” was extremely challenging in more ways than one. Just getting started and remembering what I had read previously was difficult. The research article, like other primary literature pieces that I read for other classes, is written educated individuals that had full knowledge on the topic and procedure at hand as they performed the experiments themselves. They fully understood what took place and made their own interpretations based on their findings, and their purpose, therefore, was to convey to other researchers like them and journals why their research was significant and what the results mean in terms of its effects on us. Like I previously mentioned, their target audience is not the common lay person, who has little to no previous psychological or scientific background. So, the language that they used contained terms and phrases that were complex. It was up to myself to change the words and ideas in a way that was both clear and easy to understand. In addition, I had to make sure that I did not leave any details out of my summary as well. This time around I included information on the procedures as in how the doses were administered and how much of it was given. I also made the effort to define some terms and explain in really simple ways how procedures were brought out and simplified what they found by a lot as well. I have always known that the role of a journalist is no easy task. However, I did not realize that they covered and read scientific literature and cited them as they reported on findings. Covering the bases of the journal article in a way that catches the eye of the reader is not an easy task at all.
News Article- https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/alzheimer-s-drug-shows-promise-in-small-trial/
Research Article- http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v537/n7618/full/nature19323.html