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Memantine and Alzheimer's disease
Date:1/10/2008

Amsterdam, January 9, 2008 In a study published this month in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, researchers from the University of Aberdeen report that the drug memantine, used for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and praised as "the first and only representative of a new class of Alzheimer drugs" works in fact similar to other existing compounds, and is beneficial only in a narrow concentration range. They further indicate that the complex pharmacological profile of memantine requires careful consideration concerning suitable doses and suitable patient groups, so that the best use can be achieved for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Dementia is an ever-increasing problem in todays aging societies, with millions of patients and their carers affected worldwide. About one in five people over the age of 80 suffers from Alzheimers disease, the most common type of dementia. There is no cure and little hope is available for treatment, thus leaving the prospect of years or even decades of progressive mental deterioration.

In Alzheimers disease, two systems necessary for the communication of brain cells fail: The stimulatory brain messenger acetylcholine is down-regulated, while over-activation of the messenger glutamate leads to the death of neurones.

The first-generation of compounds aimed to boost the brains acetylcholine levels led to the development of drugs such as Aricept (donepezil) and Excelon (rivastigmine). Attempts to develop drugs that block the action of glutamate by a considerable number of pharmaceutical companies and researchers were not successful for a long time, since these receptors are also required for normal brain function, learning and memory in particular. It was therefore considered a major breakthrough when a drug called memantine was discovered to have beneficial effects in Alzheimers disease, which did not affect the normal function of glutamate signalling, but only the excessive action
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Contact: Astrid Engelen
a.engelen@iospress.nl
31-206-883-355
IOS Press
Source:Eurekalert

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