Epilepsy Drug Could Prevent and Treat Alzheimer's

Wednesday, 29 Oct 2008 08:30 AM

By Sylvia Booth Hubbard

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A common drug used to treat epilepsy could prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. A study found that if Valproic Acid (VPA) is used early in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, it can reverse early memory losses.

VPA works by hampering an enzyme that produces a protein called beta Amyloid, which is toxic to the brain. Beta Amyloid is the central component of the deadly debilitating plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

“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,” said University of British Columbia’s Psychiatry Prof. Weihong Song. “The drug also improved performance in memory tests.

“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 AD,” says Song. “A small human trial is currently underway and we expect results to be available in the next year.”

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