Epilepsy drug spells hope for Alzheimer’s patients

October 28th, 2008 - 10:51 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Oct 28 (IANS) Canadian researchers have found that a drug used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorders can also be effectively used in treating Alzheimer’s disease.In their study on animal models, researchers at Vancouver-based University of British Columbia have found that Valproic Acid (VPA), used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorders, can also block the formation of plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

If the drug is used in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, it can help reverse memory loss, the study says.

It says Valproic Acid inhibits the activity of an enzyme that produces a neurotoxic protein called beta Amyloid. In turn, this stops the formation of plaques since beta Amyloid proteins are the main component of plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease.

“We found that if we used VPA in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, in model mice, it reduced plaque formation and further prevented brain cell death and axon damage,” a university statement quoted Weihong Song, study leader and Canada Research Chair in Alzheimer’s disease at the university, as saying.

“The drug also improved performance in memory tests,” he said, adding that the results will help them design human clinical trials.

“We are very excited about these results because we now know when VPA should be administered to be most effective and we now know how VPA is working to prevent Alzheimer’s disease,” said Song.

“A small human clinical trial is currently underway and we expect results to be available in the next year,” he added.

Alzheimer’s disease, which is characterised by progressive brain deterioration and leads to dementia, affects about 300,000 Canadians and 500,000 Americans under the age of 65.

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