July 29, 2008

New Alzheimer’s Treatment Significantly Slows Patients’ Mental Decline, Study Finds

CHICAGO _ A new treatment for Alzheimer's disease significantly slowed elderly patients' mental decline and may have revealed a new way of attacking the illness, according to a study presented Tuesday at a Chicago medical conference.

In a study involving 321 Alzheimer's patients in Britain and Singapore, the treatment was found to reduce the rate of mental loss by 81 percent compared with a group that received a placebo, according to a standard test that measures cognitive performance and memory.

The compound studied has previously been used as a blue dye and for some other medical conditions. Team leader Claude Wischik of Aberdeen University had found that the chemical, which goes by the commercial name "rember," could break up some of the protein tangles commonly found in the brain cells of Alzheimer's patients.

The benefit from the new drug shown in the study is about double the effect of drugs currently in use to slow the advance of Alzheimer's, experts said.

"The effect size is pretty large for drugs of this class," said Dr. Raj Shah, an Alzheimer's specialist and medical director of the memory clinic at Rush University Medical Center.

Shah and other experts said the results must be replicated by other groups, and Shah noted that the research team is also linked to a pharmaceutical company that hopes to market the drug.

Wischik said that if further tests of the compound show promise, the treatment could be available for general use by 2012 or 2013.

The results were presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, being held this week in Chicago.


(c) 2008, Chicago Tribune.

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