Innovative Alzheimer's medications offer hope
Dr. Beata Skudlarska
Article Last Updated: 08/06/2008 12:29:07 PM EDT
Q: What is the news about the treatment of Alzheimer's dementia? Are there any new medications available? How do they work? Do they have side effects? Is there any place close by where I can get my mom into a medication trial? She has been diagnosed with dementia 4 years ago and I think that the pills she is taking are not helping anymore. Any advice is welcome. Trish
A: The Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease just ended in Chicago last week. Many new drug trial results and potential new treatments were presented. Some were rather promising, others proved to be disappointing. I will try to summarize them for you, but first let me briefly describe what is available for treatment of dementia now.
First, no new drugs for dementia have been approved since 2003. We hope that some new medications will get approved soon (which, in the world of pharmacological intervention is 12-24 months). We do not know for sure when because the Food And Drug Administration tends to be more careful with new drugs these days, trying to make sure that medications have no harmful side effects (remember Vioxx?).
Currently, there are two groups of drugs on the market to treat Alzheimer's. One type blocks an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of a chemical, acetylcholine, which is believed to play a major role in memory transmission in the brain. As a result, there is more of that chemical available for brain cells to use. In this group we have three drugs to click here to read the whole story and comments