Early study reveals promising Alzheimer's disease treatment

July 18, 2008

A drug once approved as an antihistamine in Russia improved thinking processes and ability to function in patients with Alzheimer's disease in a study conducted there, said an expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. The findings are published in the current issue of the journal The Lancet.

"More research is needed, but we are encouraged by the effect the drug Dimebon had on Alzheimer's patients" said Dr. Rachelle Doody, professor of neurology at BCM and lead author of the study.

In the study, the authors noted that Dimebon is the first drug for Alzheimer's disease that demonstrated continued improvement in patients over a 12 month period. Other approved drugs do not have this effect.

Half of the 183 patients in the Russian study received Dimebon; the other half were given a placebo or an inactive pill. Clinicians at the study sites then monitored the patients' progress over the next year on five different outcomes. All of those in the study had mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

"What we saw in the clinical trial is that people on the medication continued to improve over time," Doody said. "Those on placebo continued to decline."

Researchers believe the medication works by stabilizing mitochondria, the cellular components that produce energy, and possibly by inhibiting brain cell death. Researchers evaluated patients' thinking and memory ability, overall function, psychiatric and behavioral symptoms, and ability to perform daily activities.

"Usually at this point in a drug's development, we are happy to see improvement in one of the outcome measures," Doody said. "We saw improvement in all five."

Some participants complained of occasional dry mouth, but no one opted out of the study because of the side effects.

"As we continue research, we hope to replicate these results," Doody said. "My belief is that this drug will turn out to be useful for Alzheimer's disease, regardless of the stage of the disease."

Doody said this is only the first study looking into the effects of Dimebon on Alzheimer's disease. She also noted that it involved only a relatively small population from one specific region of the world. The ongoing Phase 3 study will include several international locations including the United States.

Source: Baylor College of Medicine

Explore further: Best of Last Week – trapping light forever, turning paleontology on its head and a promising anti-aging drug

Related Stories

New field of application for versatile helper

October 13, 2015

In Alzheimer's disease proteins clump together to long fibrils causing the death of nerve cells. Small heat shock proteins can counteract this effect. Scientists, therefore, hope to deploy them as agents in the treatment ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.