Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Potential Solution for Alzheimer's

          Alzheimer’s Disease affects memory, thinking, and behavior, primarily in people over sixty-five years old. Over five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms are progressive and get worse over time. Eventually they start to interfere with daily tasks. There comes a point when individuals with Alzheimer’s can no longer carry a conversation or interact with their environment, let alone lead a normal life or care for themselves. Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, a Swiss company that specializes in physical sciences and engineering, may have just created a potential future treatment for Alzheimer’s.
            Scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, or EPFL, have developed a new capsule to potentially prevent the degenerative nature of the disease. Patients who have Alzheimer’s disease have a buildup of the protein amyloid beta, referred to as “plaques”. This creates a toxic environment for neurons, resulting in a breakdown in neuron connection and lost memory. The capsule’s purpose would be to release a flow of antibodies into the bloodstream, directed towards the brain that would clear out the plaques of amyloid beta proteins. The capsule would be made of materials compatible with the body in order to protect it from the patient’s immune system, and would contain cells that would be genetically engineered to produce the antibodies needed over time. It would be implanted under the patient’s skin to give it access to the bloodstream.
            The idea of the capsule came from a current way doctors fight plaque growth, which has had promising results. That method involved “tagging” the proteins and using the patient’s immune system to break the plaques down. However, the treatment is only useful if the disease is caught in its earliest stages and involves repeated vaccinations, which tend to have side effects. The capsule could eradicate both of those concerns.
            The capsule, however, is still in the early stages of production. EPFL has done trials on mice, testing how the capsule would do over a course of thirty-nine weeks. So far, they’ve had an incredible amount of success lowering the levels of the amyloid beta proteins, as well as reducing the “phosphorylation of the protein tau” or “tangles”, which is another symptom of Alzheimer’s. Therefore, while the testing is still in its early stages, the success with the mice stands as a “proof-of-concept”, meaning the capsule could be a legitimate breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research. The reduction of the amyloid beta proteins could be a concept that cures patients of the disease in the future, potentially sparing millions of people.



  1. I really like the different points of emphasis that you have in your post. I'm interested to see how soon this potential treatment could be implemented. I wonder if this capsule could be used to eventually treat the disease no matter what stage it is in. Also, one of the concerns that I would have about this capsule is what side effects does it have and how could that affect treating Alzheimer's patients. In addition, what kinds of different tests and regulations must this capsule follow to be approved and put on the market?

  2. I believe this product can help millions of people if is successful. I would be curious to know how much the production of this capsule would cost and if it is something that would be easily assessable to Alzheimer's patients. If the cost is too great Alzheimer patients might not be able to afford it especially if the treatment involves repeat vaccinations. Another concern is that so far the only test subjects have been mice and when they finally get to testing on humans there might be some major side effects. This could derail the progress done on Alzheimer's and get people hopes up who are following this new product for nothing. I am very interested in seeing how soon the new testing could be done on this product and when it could be open to the public. Alzheimer's is one of the worse diseases because it effects so many and there is no cure so I hope this new development is the beginning of a product that can help millions in the future.


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