Scientists at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have developed an implantable capsule that enlists the immune system of an Alzheimer’s disease sufferer against the illness.
Alzheimer’s is thought to be caused by certain kinds of proteins piling up in certain parts of the brain. One promising treatment involves injecting patients with antibodies that stick to the proteins and call up the patient’s immune system to attack and dissolve the deposits.
The Swiss group engineered antibodies and packaged them in a capsule that can be implanted under a patient’s skin. The capsule contains a hydrogel medium that can nurture a continuous stream of antibodies; the capsule’s permeable walls allow the antibody “factory” to draw nutrients from the patient’s bloodstream.
Result: Tested in mice, the steady flow of antibodies over 39 weeks dissolved existing protein deposits, prevented new ones and even reduced the activity of a secondary protein associated with the disease.
TRENDPOST: Coupled with future advances in the ability to diagnose Alzheimer’s before cognitive decline begins, treatments such as this one that use a patient’s natural immunity to repel the disease will become a standard treatment by 2030.