An exciting research study has concluded at Johns Hopkins University and the results could be great news for the millions of patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s dementia.
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder that affects more than 50 million people in the world. A new drug, antiepileptic levetiracetam, has proved to be successful in reducing seizure activity in epilepsy patients. The drug works to calm hyperactivity in the brain. This hyperactivity is also present in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), an early stage of dementia where the patient begins to forget bits of information, such as conversations, appointments and recent activities. It is a mild cognitive impairment and may escape detection, but patients with aMCI are at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s dementia. According the study, published recently in NeuroImage: Clinical, antiepileptic levetiracetam, when administered in low doses, reduces hyperactivity and improves the performance of such tasks as forming new memories of recent experiences and memory tasks that reside in the hippocampus. This region of the brain is among the first to suffer damage in Alzheimer’s patients.
The John Hopkins researchers conducted a double-blind random test on 84 subjects. The majority of the group had some symptoms of memory dementia, with only 17 control subjects. Various doses of antiepileptic levetiracetam was administered, as well as a placebo. The test results were encouraging. Low doses of the drug resulted in stabilizing hyperactivity and improving memory performance.
Next steps for the John Hopkins research team, according to Michela Gallagher, the lead researcher, is to determine if the results will continue over the long-term, preventing further deterioration of cognitive function or even better, slow-down or block completely advancement to Alzheimer’s dementia. If the drug proves to be effective, it will be tremendously good news for the roughly 5.3 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s.