People with rheumatoid arthritis rarely get Alzheimer's disease.
A new study may help scientists unlock that medical mystery.
Researchers have found that rheumatoid arthritis patients seem to have protection from developing Alzheimer's disease.
And, the scientific link between the two may help researchers develop a new treatment for Alzheimer's.
Looking at pictures is just one way Bob and Donna Otten cope.
"Bob is taking Galantamine. It'll help him recall what we saw, because he won't remember the trip all that well," Donna said.
Bob was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease four years ago.
"It slows it a little bit but it's not anything amazing," she added.
A new study from the University of Colorado may change that.
"A protein that is released during rheumatoid arthritis into the blood seems to get into the brain and prevent Alzheimer's disease from getting hold," explained Huntington Potter, professor, neurology UC Anschutz Medical Campus.
The protective protein, known as GMCSF, is also an ingredient in the FDA approved drug Leukine - used to treat leukemia patients.
"This drug is very special because it seems to not only get rid of amyloid deposits in the brain but encourage the growth of new neurons," Huntington said.
The drug was studied in mice and found to be effective at halting Alzheimer's disease. Human trials are next.
For those with a family history of Alzheimer's like the Ottens, the discovery could be life-saving for future generations.
University of Colorado researchers will continue to study this new drug as a treatment for Alzheimer's but say definitive results are still a few years away.
TOPIC: Alzheimer's Clue
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease (a disease that occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues) and causes chronic pain and inflammation in various joints of the body. What makes rheumatoid arthritis different from other forms of arthritis is that it can appear in people of all ages rather than just people over 50, and multiple joints can be affected at the same time. RA is a commonly diagnosed rheumatic disease and affects approximately 1.3 million people in the United States alone. It's also three times more likely to be found in women than men. No one yet knows what causes RA and there is currently no cure. (Source: www.medicinenet.com/rheumatoid_arthritis)
TREATMENT: There are a number of treatment options for RA that are primarily aimed at reducing inflammation and slowing the disease down to keep it from worsening. Doctors usually recommend over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen and naproxen that focus on inflammation. Depending on the severity of the arthritis, these over-the-counter drugs may not be enough and require a prescription for a higher dosage or additional medication. In some severe situations, a doctor may prescribe steroids in order to ease pain caused by RA and can be taken as a pill. (Source: www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new study is finding links between rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at the University of Colorado have found that a protein released in the body from rheumatoid arthritis may be preventing Alzheimer's from forming in the brain. This protein is now being formed into a commercial drug called Leukine. So far, the drug has been tested on mice and shown to cut amyloid deposits in the brain in half and reverse cognitive problems. Researchers will now begin to test the protein on humans to see if it has the same effects but state that it will take a few years to have definitive results. (Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100822211549.htm)
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS REPORT, PLEASE CONTACT:
Huntington Potter, PhD
Prof. of Neurology and Vice Chair for Basic Research
Director, Alzheimer's Disease Research and Clinical Center
Anschutz Medical Campus
University of Colorado, Denver MS 8608