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

s leading to cell death. Memantine (trade names: Namenda, Axura, Ebixa) was approved in 2002 by the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products and in 2003 by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for the treatment of moderate-to-severe Alzheimers disease. The arrival of this compound was greeted with great expectations since it could potentially be beneficial not only for Alzheimers disease, but also for other brain disorders that involve excess glutamate stimulation, such as trauma and stroke.

In the UK, much debate has centred on the recommendation of drugs which may help Alzheimer patients with day to day tasks. Cost-benefit analysis has led NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence (http://guidance.nice.org.uk/TA111/) to issue guidelines limiting the availability of Alzheimer-related drugs to specific patient groups. This decision has been widely criticized by patient representatives and Alzheimer support charities such as the Alzheimers Research Trust.

In the present study, researchers report that memantine has a much more complex pharmacological profile than originally described. It does in fact work rather similar to the originally introduced drugs that affect acetylcholine-related signalling, in addition to weak actions on glutamate, and has negative effects on neuronal communication at high concentrations. At lower concentrations, memantine was able to enhance signalling between neurones of the hippocampus (the main brain area affected in Alzheimers disease) and was indeed able to reverse learning and memory deficits. However, a pharmacological analysis showed that this was not due to its ability to block glutamate signalling, but rather to an additional and more potent action on the acetylcholine system.

Therefore, the investigators data do confirm that memantine shows promising aspects for the treatment of AD, but only in a narrow concentration range. Mo
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Contact: Astrid Engelen
a.engelen@iospress.nl
31-206-883-355
IOS Press
Source:Eurekalert

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