Monday, May 24, 2010

5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today — what does tomorrow hold? Is IVIG a part of the future?

In her powerful novel Still Alice, Lisa Genova, a Ph.D. in neuroscience, writes extensively about Alzheimer’s.  The book is about a woman who learns she has early-onset Alzheimer’s. The story describes how Alice, an educated woman in her early 50s, discovers the disease, how she deals with telling her family and, most difficult, her colleagues, and how she pares down her daily activities to accommodate her diagnosis and increasing limitations.

Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease; therefore cancer has become a more hopeful diagnosis than Alzheimer’s. In the book, Alice expresses this so well:

“She wished she had cancer instead. She’d trade Alzheimer’s for cancer in a heartbeat. She felt ashamed for wishing this, and it was certainly a pointless bargaining, but she permitted the fantasy anyways. With cancer, she’d have something that she could fight… There was the chance that she could win… And even if defeated in the end, she’d be able to look them [her family and the Harvard community] knowingly in the eyes and say goodbye before she left. …Alzheimer’s Disease was an entirely different kind of beast. There were no weapons that could slay it…. The blazing fire consumed all. No one got out alive.”

Alzheimer’s not only impacts the person with the disease, but the entire family.  Katie Stevens, a contestant on American Idol, dedicated her auditions to her grandmother “so she can see me succeed in my dream before she forgets who I am.”  When there’s a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, families either come together, or they fall apart. 

Northwestern provides support groups for Alzheimer’s victims and their families. The clinical and research professionals at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center, based at the Feinberg School of Medicine, describe their work as “from cells to social work.” They are conducting studies on causes and effects of dementia and seek to make patients and families the beneficiaries of that research. 

Because of our years of involvement in the IVIG market, we’re following the research of several companies, including Baxter, studying the impact of IgG therapy as a possible prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Last month Octapharma had a press release reporting, “The conclusion of the Swedish research group was that this observation may support previous indications that IVIG administration might be a path to prevent AD.”

In 2009 5.3 million people in the United States were known to be living with Alzheimer’s or a variant; in 2010 a half-million new cases will be diagnosed, and by 2050 there will be a million new cases annually, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, based in Chicago. 

A few new drugs can slow the disease’s path, however, to date there is no proven prevention of this disease. 

1 comment:

Mark Stinson said...

As long as we're discussing IVIG use in neurology, it's worth adding that Gamunex is the preferred IVIG therapy among neurologists.

Talecris Biotherapeutics last month announced results of a new survey showing that Gamunex is the preferred IVIG among neurologists who indicated a brand preference.

In the survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Talecris, neurologists selected Gamunex over four times more often than all other available liquid IGIV therapies, with a statistically significant margin (p<0.05).

Gamunex has the broadest set of FDA-approved indications for any liquid IGIV, and it is the only therapy on the market approved to treat chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), a debilitating neurologic condition that can lead to severe impairment of motor skills. Neurologists, the specialists who treat CIDP, prescribe more grams of IGIV than any other physician specialty.

"Our investment in a significant clinical trial to treat CIDP with Gamunex resulted in the first and only FDA-approved treatment for CIDP. We are particularly pleased that the clinical trial provided outcomes data for neurologists to make informed treatment decisions," said Larry Stern, chairman and CEO of Talecris Biotherapeutics. "The Harris Interactive study shows that our educational efforts are already having a positive impact on brand choice, and we look forward to providing further educational support about the clinical use of Gamunex."

Survey Methodology

Results of the Harris Interactive survey are statistically significant with a 95 percent confidence interval and are based on an online national survey of 298 neurologists selected from among the Harris Interactive online Physician Panel and the American Medical Association (AMA) database on behalf of Talecris Biotherapeutics. The survey was conducted in February 2010. In order to qualify to complete the survey, neurologists must have been in practice for at least one year, be aware of at least two IGIV products, and prescribe IGIV products, so that a true comparison between brands could be made. The data were post-weighted by gender, years in practice, and region in order to represent the AMA population of neurologists. Respondents were asked to assume no difference in terms of availability, cost, and reimbursement when indicating their most preferred IGIV brand. The survey was conducted and the results are validated by global custom research firm Harris Interactive(R), known for their innovation and expert insights, as well as the renowned Harris Poll.