Contributed by: Michael Rafii, M.D., Ph.D - Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the University of California, San Diego.

Bapineuzumab is an antibody to the beta-amyloid plaques that are believed to underlie Alzheimer's disease pathology. It is currently in a Phase 3 clinical trial, which is the final step towards obtaining FDA clearance. The drug is thought to be promising because it uses a novel approach for treating AD.

In most patients, the immune system detects the presence of the abnormal beta-amyloid protein and tries to remove it. However, in AD patients, the immune response is not sufficient to remove all of the beta-amyloid, and hence the disease occurs. Bapineuzumab is thought to act as a boost to the normal immune system's ability to remove the toxic beta-amyloid. It has been shown to be well tolerated, and initial findings from the phase 2 study have been encouraging.

Interestingly, the concept of immunotherapy has been around for quite some time and antibody treatments are becoming more common and include such treatments as:

Humira for autoimmune diseases
Avastin for colorectal cancer
Erbitux for head and neck cancer
Raptiva for psoriasis
Remicaid for autoimmune disease
Tysabri for multiple sclerosis and Crohns disease
Lucentis for Macular Degeneration
Rituxan for Lymphoma
Herceptin for breast cancer

The future of AD treatment may someday soon include immunotherapy targeting the underlying cause of the disease, beta-amyloid.


  1. Patients and families affected by Alzheimer’s can visit to see if they might be eligible to enroll. The goal of the ICARA Study is to explore if an investigational drug, Bapineuzumab, can help slow the progression of Alzheimer's Disease.

  2. I think there is also a trial using IGIV starting up soon. From what the doctor told us, (my husband has AD), the drug is basically an infusion of antibodies against amyloid.

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