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Published on: March 22, 2016
by Neelam for Health News:
The treatment of Alzheimer’s disease took a major step forward today as scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland unveiled an implantable device that they claim can activate the AD sufferer’s immune system and turn it against the memory robbing disease.
The researchers have tested the device, which is a tiny capsule, on mice with great success
In Alzheimer’s disease, clumps of beta amyloid (Abeta), known as amyloid plaques, accumulate between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. The over-accumulation of the protein amyloid beta is toxic to the brain cells (neurons) so it needs to be cleared in the early stages. If not done so, the Abeta proteins leads to cognitive decline. Repeated vaccine injections to clear amyloid plaques can cause side effects.
EPFL experts have now solved the problem with a tiny implantable capsule that releases a steady and safe flow of antibodies to the patient’s brain, directing the patient’s immune system to clear Abeta proteins.
Developed at the lab of Patrick Aebischer, who is president of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), the implantable bioactive capsule contains cells that have been genetically engineered to release antibodies against Abeta protein.
The capsule, which is referred to as a “macroencapsulation device,” is designed to be implanted beneath a patient’s skin, and over time, releases antibodies into the bloodstream that signal the patient’s own immune system to “tag” the Abeta proteins and clear them.
The capsule measures 27-mm long, 12-mm wide and 1.2-mm thick, and is made of two permeable membranes sealed together with a polypropylene frame, all biocompatible materials. Inside the cell is a hydrogel that facilitates cell growth.
Scientists tested the implantable capsule on genetically engineered mice and discovered that the device successfully produced antibodies that specifically recognized and targeted Abeta. The constant flow of antibodies it released over a course of 39 weeks prevented the plaques from forming.
The EPFL experts hope their breakthrough invention could transform the way neurologists approach treat Alzheimer’s. The landmark discovery and successful animal tests demonstrate clearly that encapsulated cell implants can be used to deliver antibodies effectively and safely to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Dementia.
The discovery of implantable capsule for AD is published in the journal Brain.
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