Posted on Mar 12, 2019, 5 p.m.
If administered early enough one drug may be able to prevent all symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to curb the condition, according to a study from the University of Virginia, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
The drug memantine is used to treat moderate to severe symptoms of the disease, and the researchers believe it may actually prevent or slow progression of the disease if started before the symptoms of the disease appear.
“Based on what is known so far, it is my opinion we will never cure Alzheimer’s disease by treating patients once they become symptomatic; best hope for conquering the disease is to first recognize patients at risk, and being treating them prophylactically with drugs and lifestyle adjustments to reduce the rate at which the silent phase of disease progresses.” explains Professor George Bloom.
Mice lab results were analyzed which showed what occurs at the molecular level of beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Most neurons develop before birth and never again divide, compromises in neuron’s protective shield in the course of the disease causes the neurons to attempt to divide.
“As much as 90% of neuron death that occurs in the Alzheimer’s brain follows this cell cycle reentry process of abnormal attempt to divide, by the end of disease course patients will have lost about 30% of the neurons in the frontal lobe.”
The FDA approved drug memantine has been found to close loopholes and help to keep neurons in a stable condition, with few side effects. The researchers suggest using memantine as a preventive treatment will first call for screening for biomarkers of the disease years before symptoms appear. Those that may benefit from such treatment will likely need to take it for their entire lives, according to the researchers who will be designing a clinical trial to determine if the drug can be used as a protective early intervention against Alzheimer’s disease.
Bloom goes on to add “I don’t want to raise false hopes, if this idea pans out, it will be because we now understand calcium is one of the agents to get this disease started, and we may be able to slow and/or stop this process if done very early.”
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