Memantine Doesn't Work In Milder Alzheimer's Cases
Alzheimer's Drug Not Always Effective
Memantine, a drug that’s prescribed for the later stages of Alzheimer’s diseases, doesn’t work on patients in earlier stages of the illness, according to new research. Memantine belongs to a class of drugs called NMDA receptor antagonists, which help reduce abnormal activity in the brain by binding to NMDA receptors on brain cells and blocking the activity of the neurotransmitter glutamate. At normal levels, glutamate aids in memory and learning, but if levels are too high, glutamate appears to over-stimulate nerve cells, killing off key brain cells. A recent study was conducted at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine to determine whether memantine was effective in patients with mild Alzheimer's disease. The research team conducted a meta-analysis. In this type of study, researchers pool and analyze the results of published studies that have data on the issue they’re exploring. The researchers identified three trials that included a total of 431 patients with mild Alzheimer's disease. Using several measurements, they assessed cognition, changes in behavior and ability to function. Ultimately, they found no significant difference between people with mild Alzheimer's disease taking memantine or a placebo. The study appeared in the online edition of the Archives of Neurology. The experts concluded that future trials are needed to determine whether memantine used in combination with other drugs will help patients in their earlier stages of Alzheimer's. Although memantine can help patients with severe Alzheimer's disease think more clearly and perform daily activities more easily, like other Alzheimer's drugs, it is not a cure and does not stop progression of the disease, the researchers say. Robin Westen is ThirdAge’s medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.