Title: Epilepsy Drug Could Reverse Early Stages Of Alzheimer’s Disease, Say Scientists
Author: Fiona Macrae
Researchers have discovered that mice, with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, have shown improvements in memory and slowed disease progression while being administered valproic acid. The studies have been so successful that there are human trials in progress with results likely to be announced within the next year.
History and Progression:
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) usually develops later in life, manifesting as memory problems, mood swings, aphasia, irritability, aggression, and loss of motor function. While not fully understand, it is believed that AD is caused by plaque and sticky protein that choke the brain’s functioning. Current AD drugs can halt the degradation process, however not everyone experiences the same effects. Eventually the AD drugs wear off and the disease progresses as normal.
Valproic acid is an anticonvulsant that is typically used as treatment for manic depression, schizophrenia and epilepsy. It also tends to block production of the plaque/sticky protein that causes AD. Apparently the drug has a decreased effect as the disease progresses. While the trials are producing exciting results, it is discouraged as a current use for AD because of the apparent side effects.
Valproic acid was not initially intended to serve as an adequate treatment for AD. Despite promising results from initial mice and human trials, the side effects are still unknown so the drug should be considered unstable until proven otherwise.
Patients using this treatment option seem to gain memory function back, which will help with their self awareness and pride of their condition. They would need less supervision because they could potentially function better on their own.
This drug would probably not be a good treatment candidate for a current seizure, depression or bi-polar patient with AD. I imagine conflicting treatments if they were compliant with another type of treatment for the previously mentioned ailments and with valproic acid.
Alternative treatment options for AD are presented to hopefully produce greater results than current marketed treatments.
Valproic acid has not been fully studied as an alternative treatment for AD and therefore side effects are currently unpredictable.
I believe the government should support towards this research, as many citizens are already afflicted with AD and that number is expected to double within the coming years. Pharmaceutical companies would have much to gains, so I predict they will be lobbying for continued support of research in this area.
As with most chemicals, some may find religious conflicts by ingesting a medication. I do not know of any religious objections to the current AD treatments. I approve of the use of the valproic acid, as patients would likely have a better cognitive relation with their god.