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Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Shows Promise
Date:4/17/2008

Analysis of early study found cognitive function improved in patients

THURSDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- A new analysis of a study on an experimental Alzheimer's drug reinforces the notion that the compound is broadly effective at improving the cognitive function of mild to moderate Alzheimer's patients.

A second analysis of the trial on the medication, known as Dimebon, also reveals that by improving the Alzheimer's patients' ability to perform daily tasks, the drug shaves off almost an hour a day in the amount of time the average caregiver must attend to his or her patient.

The twin observations raise hope for a new and improved therapy to address both the symptoms and the underlying mechanisms driving a disease that the Alzheimer's Association says currently affects more than 5 million Americans.

"The broad context is that there are treatments available that treat Alzheimer's symptoms, but do not slow the disease down or prevent it," explained Steven H. Ferris, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at New York University. "So, we really need drugs that are more potent and safe and that actually slow the disease down."

"And this drug has that potential," he said. "It still needs more research -- which is going to happen. But, so far, it really looks like it might have a better effect than existing drugs and also a better side effect profile."

Ferris is expected to discuss the new research on Dimebon on Thursday at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting, in Chicago.

He pointed out, however, that he played no role of any kind in initial analysis of a recently completed yearlong study that had looked into the drug's prospects.

Ferris describes his current connection to the Dimebon study as that of a paid "external scientific advisory board" member to drug maker Medivation Inc., engaged in helping the company interpret the findings to date while moving forwar
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