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Trial finds blood plasma infusions could help treat Alzheimer’s

PBR Staff Writer Published 06 November 2017

A team of researchers in the US have found that regular infusions of blood plasma from young donors could well be a new treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease.

A research in this regard was carried out by investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California. The scientists say that the new treatment option can be safely explored based on the findings of an early-phase clinical trial.

Dubbed PLASMA (Plasma for Alzheimer’s Symptom Amelioration), the trial evaluated the safety, tolerability and feasibility of blood plasma infusions into 18 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

The participants were subjected to four, weekly infusions of either a placebo saline solution or blood plasma from donors in the age group of 18-30.

According to the scientists, the trial also gave out indications that the participating patients had an improvement in their condition following the blood plasma infusions.

Stanford neurology and neurological sciences clinical associate professor Sharon Shaw who is the trial’s principal investigator said that the safety results of blood-plasma infusions did not come as a surprise. However, what was surprising, she said were the signs of improvement shown by participants on tests of functional ability.

Sha added: “Our enthusiasm concerning these findings needs to be tempered by the fact that this was a small trial. But these results certainly warrant further study.”

The trial, which was hosted at Stanford Hospital, was sponsored by California-based biotechnology company Alkahest which owns intellectual property associated with the treatment regimen.

Alzheimer’s Research UK research director Carol Routledge said: “Blood-plasma infusions have been in widespread use for medical purposes for a number of years, so while it is not surprising that they were found to be safe in this research, it is good news that this interesting approach can now be investigated in larger trials.

“This study of 18 people focused on the safety of the blood transfusions, and wasn’t set up to assess potential benefits to people’s symptoms.”


Image: Sharon Shaw is the principal investigator of Stanford’s PLASMA trial for Alzheimer’s. Photo: courtesy of Paul Sakuma/Stanford Medicine.