New Drugs Show Promise in Fight to Cure Alzheimer's

July 21, 2008

Alzheimer's disease is robbing Bonnie Lowe of her memories, but the 89-year-old is not giving up.

"I want to be like I used to be," Lowe said.

She's joined a new study and will soon start taking an experimental drug called Bapineuzamab, basically an Alzheimer's vaccine.

Currently the only way to treat Alzheimer's is by using memory boosting medications, but unfortunately the drugs do not do anything to correct the underlying cause of the disease. That is what this new vaccine type therapy hopes to do, according to Dr. Sean Kenniff.

Doctor Bruce Kohrman, of Miami Research Associates, is studying the drug. "It's a whole new world of treatment, it's a whole new avenue of treatment," said Kohrman.

During Alzheimer's there is a build-up of protein plaque around the neurons of the brain. It is believed this is what disrupts brain function.
The new drug triggers the body's own immune system to dissolve those plaques away.

In early studies, some patients given the drug had improved memory and better concentration.

"The results of the phase two trial are exciting, and they're encouraging," said Kohrman.

Also, The Alzheimer's Association of Central and Western Virginia says a drug once used as an antihistamine in Russia has shown a slight but unique promise for treating Alzheimer's disease.

The drug called Dimebon appeared to slow memory loss in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

A study of 183 patients taking the drug is being done in Russia. The results from the 18-month trial will be presented at the upcoming International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease on Wednesday, July 30th, in Chicago.

If future results in patients like Bonnie are positive, it could change the way Alzheimer's is treated.

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