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Study Suggests Alzheimer's Disease Can Be Stabilized

•, Susan Young
 Alzheimer's patients given a drug that is already used to treat immune disorders saw their condition stabilize in a small study presented at a conference this week.

Study participants were given the compound—known as intravenous Ig, or IVIg—for three years. During this period, they showed no signs of further cognitive decline or memory loss. Although the study was small, it provides hope that the devastating disease can be stopped or slowed in humans.

The work was presented on Tuesday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2012 in Vancouver by Norman Relkin, a neurologist at the Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States; 35 million people are estimated to have the disease today, a figure that is expected to balloon in the coming decades. Its biological basis is not well understood, but researchers suspect that plaque buildup in the brain caused by aggregates of a protein called beta-amyloid or a protein called tau (or perhaps both) contributes to the death of neurons seen in those with the disease.

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