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New Alzheimer's drug shows promise

July 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The drug the Alzheimer's community is all excited about is actually an antihistamine. That's right an allergy drug. Researchers say this medication might actually halt the disease for more than a year. Seven years ago, surgeon Malcolm Apt started noticing he had difficulty retrieving words in conversation.

"I have problems with pulling words when I am talking," said Malcolm Apt.

Besides prescribing more exercise and better eating, his neurologist also put him on a few Alzheimer's medications. Malcolm says he's doing all he can to keep the disease at bay.

Now, a new study out of Russia shows an antihistamine called Dimebon may finally Alzheimer's patient and their families some hope.

The study was done on nearly 200 patients age 50 and older with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. The half who took Dimebon daily showed significant improvement in memory, thinking and the ability to daily activities compared to the placebo group.

"I think that what I might do is to improve the function of people who have the disease," said Dr. Vincent Fortanasce.

Researchers say the drug appears to boost communication between brain cells and may help protect them from an early death due to Alzheimer's.

Neurologist Dr. Vince Fortanasce says while the Dimebon trials look promising, he doesn't believe any medication can give Alzheimer's patients the kind of results families are hoping for.

"It does not extend the function of the brain by even a single day, but what it does do is it increases their abilities for maybe six months to a year," said Dr. Fortanasce.

Malcolm Apt is working hard on keeping his mind and body strong. While the Dimebon research may sound promising, Malcolm says he's not counting on it.

"These things do not turn over. Its not like you take a pill and everything is well," said Apt.

In the study, people on the drug did have side effects which included dry mouth and depression.

Researchers say the effects of Dimebon need to be proven in a bigger study that won't be complete until the summer of 2010.

That means patients and their families are still two to three years away from seeing it on the market.

 

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