5.17.2004


Early indications are that statins can help improve scores on memory tests. If pursued over the course of a longer study, this may indeed be of great interest for anyone concerned about memory loss. Providing an easy to use measurement tool is important as well. There will be additional developments to MemCheck in the coming days which will make it even easier to use. We are looking forward to responding to what our users have asked for to improve their experience. Regards.



2004-05-17
Cholesterol drug may help reverse Alzheimer's disease

Some dementia patients taking atorvastatin improved on memory tests

Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins not only delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease, they may even help reverse it, according to a small U.S. study.

"We found that over half of the patients' memory tests were either stable or improved over a period of one year. And they tended to get better the longer they were on the treatment," says Larry Sparks, the lead study investigator and a senior scientist at Sun Health Research, a non-profit research institute in Sun City, Ariz.

He says the findings may open the way to a cocktail approach to treating Alzheimer's disease, in which people would take a combination of several drugs that act in different ways.

The statin study involved about 60 people in the mild to moderate stages of the disease. All received standard treatment with a drug called a cholinesterase inhibitor. In addition, the participants were randomly assigned to receive an inactive (placebo) pill or the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (marketed as Lipitor).

Over the next year, two-thirds of patients in the statin group showed improvements in measurements of memory, cognition and depression. In contrast, the placebo group showed the expected gradual deterioration on these measurements.

The researchers are now looking at whether the statin reduced levels of damaging deposits called beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of study participants. This would indicate the drug is actually treating the disease itself rather than just the symptoms.

"All our animal studies suggest that if you reduce the cholesterol levels in the brain the production of (beta-amyloid plaques) will go down," Sparks says.

The study was funded by the Institute for the Study on Aging, the philanthropic arm of the Estée Lauder Trust, and by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

Pfizer is now funding a larger study involving 600 patients. And Sparks is asking the U.S. National Institutes of Health to approve a third trial of patients with mild cognitive impairment -- the stepping stone toward Alzheimer's.

If statins can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease in this high-risk group, then research might be funded to test statins as preventives in the general population, Sparks says.





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