Arthritis Drug Offers Hope for Alzheimer’s Patients

By Lori Feldman, RD, LD, CCRC and Michael A. Smith, MD

Twenty million Americans alive today are destined to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Most often, the ones responsible for Alzheimer’s patients are their spouses, children, grandchildren, and friends. The emotional burden can be debilitating as caregivers watch their loved ones slip away.

At the same time, family members or caregivers of patients may harbor feelings of resentment, guilt, frustration, and anger, while engulfed by an overwhelming sense of sadness at what has befallen a loved one. It’s a sad and far-too-common scenario.

The Arthritis Drug Enbrel® Offers Hope

Scientists have linked chronic inflammatory events in the brain with the onset and progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.1 In Alzheimer’s specifically, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) seems to be one of the culprits behind this devastating disease.2

There are several nutrients that decrease TNF-alpha levels in the body. However, for those already afflicted with Alzheimer’s, more than just reducing TNF-alpha level is needed to reverse the course of the disease.

In 1998, an anti-TNF-alpha drug called Enbrel® (etanercept) was approved to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Enbrel® does not reduce TNF-alpha in the body. Instead, it functions by binding to TNF-alpha and blocking its ability to latch on to TNF-alpha receptor sites on cell membranes. By interfering with the action of TNF-alpha in this way, the toxic effects of excess TNF-alpha are diminished.

In one particular Enbrel® study, there was a significant improvement in cognitive scores just after six months of treatment:3

We’re Looking for Study Participants

Groundbreaking research is going on that could have a measurable impact on not only the lives of current and future Alzheimer’s patients, but their caregivers and family members as well.

Unfortunately, the lack of volunteers for Alzheimer’s clinical trials has significantly slowed down this research and the development of new Alzheimer’s treatments. Recruiting and retaining trial participants is now the greatest obstacle, other than funding, to developing the next generation of Alzheimer’s treatments.

Life Extension Foundation® continues to support the latest research to provide a comprehensive approach to the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The most exciting research today in Alzheimer’s disease focuses on the role of inflammation and oxidative stress.


  1. Neurobiol Aging. 2005 Mar;26(3):349-54.
  2. Neurosci Lett. 1991 Aug 19;129(2):318-20.
  3. MedGenMed. 2006;8(2):25.


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