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Over the last decade, a large number of clinical trials involving immunotherapy have been conducted in the field of Alzheimer’s research. The overall success rate of these studies has not been encouraging.
Immunotherapy involves artificially boosting the immune system so that it targets of particular pathogen – like a rogue protein in the case of Alzheimer’s – and clears it from the body.
Recently, preclinical research has pointed to several possible reasons why this approach may be struggling in the clinical trials, and potential solutions that could be explored.
In today’s post, we will review two research reports and consider how this applies to Parkinson’s research.
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Immune cells (blue) checking out a suspect cell. Source: Lindau-nobel
Immunotherapy is a method of boosting the body’s immune system to better fight a particular disease. Think of it as training the immune cells in your body to target a particular protein.
The approach involves utilising the immune system of your body, and artificially altering it to target a particular protein/disease-causing agent that is not usually recognised as a pathogen (a disease causing agent).
It is truly remarkable that we have gone from painting on cave walls to flying helicopters on Mars and therapeutically manipulating our body’s primary defense system.
Immunotherapy is potentially a very powerful method for treating a wide range of medical conditions. To date, the majority of the research on immunotherapies have focused on the field of oncology (‘cancer’). Numerous methods of immunotherapy have been developed for cancer and are currently being tested in the clinic (Click here to read more about immunotherapy for cancer).
Many approaches to immunotherapy against cancer. Source: Bloomberg
Immunotherapy has also been tested in neurodegenerative conditions, like Alzheimer’s and more recently Parkinson’s. It typically involves researchers carefully designing antibodies that target a rogue protein (like beta amyloid in Alzheimer’s and alpha synuclein in Parkinson’s) which begin to cluster together, and this aggregation of protein is believed to lead to neurotoxicity.
What are antibodies?
Continue reading “Does immunotherapy need therapy?”
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The lymphatic network is an important part of our body’s defense system. It is made up of an enormous web of vessels and nodes which help to protect us from infection and disease.
This network transports a colourless fluid (called lymph), which serves two primary functions: 1.) it contains infection-fighting white blood cells that help in immune responses, and 2.) it functions as a ‘drainage system’ – allowing excess fluid from organs to be extracted and shifted to the blood system for excretion.
Recently, researchers reported something interesting about the lymphatic system in people with Parkinson’s: the rate of flow around the brain is slower.
In today’s post, we will discuss what the lymphatic system is, review what the new research found, and look at how this new information could potentially be used to help treat conditions like Parkinson’s.
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So picture this if you will:
The weather reporter would later say that it was “a month of rain in the matter of an hour“, but in the midst of the summertime mêlée I was standing bare foot, ankle deep in my rapidly flooding courtyard, trying to clear the blocked storm drain with a long metal pole.
My tee-shirt and shorts were soaked, and… oh yeah, there was lots of thunder and (more importantly) lightning.
Now, I am a rather tall individual (6’8 ~ 2m 7cm on my good days), and looking back now I can appreciate that standing ankle deep in water holding a long metal pole high in the air (to gather enough downward force to unplug the drain) in the middle of a lightning storm was probably not one of my best moments.
Luckily, my neighbour – a plumber and 3-4 fold smarter than me – kindly decided to take pity on his slow-witted nearby resident. He leapt into the situation and resolved it all in the blink of an eye.
Since that moment I have religiously maintained a clear storm drain, and taken to deriving great pleasure in keeping other drainage systems about the house clear and flowing free.
I’m happy for you, but what does this have to do with Parkinson’s?
Well, very recently researchers have reported that a different kind of drainage issue might be at play in many cases of Parkinson’s.
What on Earth do you mean?!?
Continue reading “Being ly-mphatic about drainage issues”