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“When I see that in clinical practice, I start to question whether the person has Alzheimer’s disease,” but all of these study participants were verified by advanced testing to have it, he said.

Jason Marder is among them. The New York City man, who turned 70 last week, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s more than eight years ago and continues to get Gammagard infusions every two weeks from a visiting nurse at home.

“I feel that I haven’t gone down, and that’s good,” he said in a recent interview. “I feel good. I’m very independent.”

His wife, Karin Marder, said: “He has slowed down, no question about it. His walk is a little slower but that could also have a lot to do with age. He’s still the Jason that I married. He’s still there. We still have a wonderful relationship together. I’m grateful for every day that he’s independent.”

Other doctors warned against over-optimism on these early results. Many previous drugs looked good until tested in large, definitive studies.

“That’s the only way we can get data we can really rely on,” said Dr. Reisa Sperling, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, agreed.

“The concern with this study is there has been attrition over time,” so the people left in the study are the ones who did well whereas others may have died, he said. These early results “will just whet our appetites” for the bigger study’s results, he said.

That 400-patient study, headed by Relkin, will end late this year, and results are expected early next year. Treating Alzheimer’s with IVIG would cost $2,000 to $5,000 every two weeks, depending on the patient’s weight, he estimated.

“We want to make clear that this is not an approved treatment as yet and we’re not making any sensational claims,” Relkin said.

Two other experimental Alzheimer’s drugs are in late-stage studies that just ended; results are being analyzed now. They are:

_Bapineuzumab (bap-ih-NOOZ-uh-mab), by Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy unit.

_Solanezumab (sol-ah-NAYZ-uh-mab), by Eli Lilly & Co.

On Tuesday, J&J announced that results of two studies testing bapineuzumab will be presented at a neurology conference in Sweden in September. The main result is expected to be announced before then, as soon as it is known.


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