Jung, who did not take part in the study, noted that quinidine is sometimes used to treat heart rhythm abnormalities. When combined at very low doses with dextromethorphan, it appears to help prolong that drug's usefulness.
In the study, Pioro and his colleagues enlisted 283 patients with PBA in an initial drug trial, during which some patients received one of two dosage levels of the two medications, while others received placebos.
After a two-week break, this was followed by a second phase involving 253 of the original study participants.
During the study's second part, patients were exposed to daily doses of the two-drug regimen for 12 weeks.
Pioro and his colleagues observed "significant improvement" among all the patients -- particularly among those who had not been exposed to the drug combo until the second part of the study.
Overall, Pioro noted that "there was an improvement of probably about 30 to 40 percent of symptoms" on average.
"Hopefully, we will soon have a very effective approved therapy to help these patients, which is important because this problem is probably much wider and more prevalent than we realize," he said.
"Very often patients who have this can be mistaken for having depression," Pioro explained. "But they're not depressed. Pseudobulbar affect is actually incongruent usually to the inner mood that the person has. So it can generate a lot of misconceptions. And patients will often be stigmatized, if you will, as a result."
Jung agreed. "This is exciting," she said, "because pseudobulbar affect can be so significantly socially disabling."
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