Friday, January 13, 2012

Patients with Down Syndrome Not Benefitted by Alzheimer's Drug

from Third Age:

Patients with both Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease are not benefitted by a popular drug used to treat cognitive decline, a new study shows. According to HealthDay News, researchers from King’s College London found that the brain function of people older than 40 years with Down syndrome was not helped by taking memantine.

The results came as disappointing to researchers, who had been excited about the positive results found in mice with Down syndrome.

To test the effectiveness of memantine, 88 people with Down syndrome received the drug for one year, while another 85 people received a placebo. Some study participants had Alzheimer’s while some did not.

Overall brain function declined in both groups regardless of whether or not they were taking the drug.
In fact, memantine was not only ineffective, it was dangerous. Eleven percent of people in the group that took the medication experienced serious adverse side effects, compared to just seven percent of people in the placebo group. Five people from the memantine group eventually died of these complications.

Still, researchers were pleased that their work would contribute to the ongoing field of study involving Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s. According to HealthDay, the issue is particularly important as nearly 40 percent of people with Down syndrome will be diagnosed with dementia once they pass the age of 60.

“Memantine is not an effective treatment in this group of patients,” said study author Clive Ballard. “We believe that this robust finding will have implications for clinical practice and research strategy in the future. Specifically, therapies that are beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease are not necessarily effective for the treatment of cognitive impairment or dementia in the context of Down syndrome.”

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