New Drug Slows Moderate, Severe Alzheimers
A new drug called memantine appears to slow the progress of moderate to severe Alzheimers disease. At this stage of the illness, patients can no longer take care of themselves, and generally need help dressing, bathing and making simple food. A recent study showed that memantine blocks the activity of a brain chemical called glutamate. Too much glutamate can damage or kill nerve cells.
Memantine has few side effects. The recent study shows that it can work for at least six months, but it may also be effective for a longer period of time. Further study is needed to determine whether this is the case.
The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved memantine, but it is reviewing the drug.
New England Journal of Medicine, 3 April 2003