All the patients in the study were already taking a cholinesterase drug. Some were also using memantine, another type of Alzheimer's medication.
Fifty patients were then given a placebo on top of their current regimen, while 50 were given either a low-dose (30 to 60 milligrams) twice daily supply of ORM-12741 or a high-dose (100 to 200 milligrams) version.
Computerized memory tests highlighted an apparent memory benefit (without prompting severe side effects) among the ORM-12741 patients, and Rouru suggested that the new drug should be seen as just one more potentially effective tool in an ongoing battle to reign in "a devastating disease."
"I am afraid that wonder drugs hardly exist," he noted. "In the present study, our drug was used on top of existing Alzheimer's medications. In that setting it showed clear effect, which suggests that it is giving additional clinically significant benefit for patients that are already using Alzheimer's medications."
Catherine Roe, an assistant professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, described Rouru's research as "impressive."
"This is really a new approach, in terms of the biology that they're targeting," she noted. "And they showed significant results after only three months of treatment, which is exciting particularly because this drug combination was tested on people who had moderate Alzheimer's disease."
Many experts have thought moderate Alzheimer's disease would be untreatable, she said. "By the time it's that advanced, the nerves have already died and it would be too late to do anything about memory by this stage," she explained.
Still, much more testing will need to be done, Roe cautioned. "And these results will have to be replicated with other groups of people," she said. "But if they can do that, this would
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