Good News for Sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease

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FDA approves two new treatment medications

Two new types of Alzheimer’s treatment medication have been recently approved by the FDA. The new drugs are memantine and cholinesterase inhibitors. Both work on cognitive dysfunction, which is one of the most debilitating outcomes of the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive function

One of the consequences of Alzheimer’s is that brain cells die and the connectors, or synapses, between cells become more damaged as the disease progresses, triggering worsening cognitive functioning. The patient’s ability to learn and remember is severely hampered. Medications currently available are not able to reverse the damage caused by Alzheimer’s, although they do offer hope for calming the symptoms.

Memantine and cholinesterase inhibitors work on the neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters help neurons communicate. Alzheimer’s disease hinders this process by damaging the synapses. The new drugs address this problem in different ways. Memantine regulates glutamate, a key neurotransmitter that impacts learning and memory. If glutamate attaches to the surface of cells, calcium can enter. When Alzheimer’s disease is present, the amount of calcium that enters the cell reaches a level that intensifies the cell damage. Memantine works to decrease the calcium entering the cell. Cholinesterase inhibitors slow down the process whereby key neurotransmitters are damaged.

Typical Alzheimer’s disease treatment methodology

A treatment protocol is established for the Alzheimer’s patient by the doctor depending upon a number of factors. These include:
• The patient’s medical history and current health assessment
• How far the disease has progressed
• The patient’s ability to tolerate medicines and treatment therapies
• Prognosis for the future
• Preferences of the patient and/or guardians

Clinical trials

The only way to determine the effectiveness of new treatment medications is to safely introduce the drugs to people and then document the outcomes. Clinical trials involve a carefully regulated application of new drugs to patients which yields invaluable answers to the questions of a drug’s effectiveness. It is the paramount way for researchers to develop new drug therapies that can reverse, or at least halt, the ravaging effect of Alzheimer’s, and ultimately prevent the disease from occurring.