Alzheimer’s Med Seems Ineffective in Those With Down Syndrome

TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) — A drug commonly used to
treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease does not appear to be effective
for people older than 40 years who have Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s,
according to a new study.

Although previous animal studies of the Alzheimer’s drug, memantine,
showed promising results in mice with Down syndrome, this new study of
people with Down syndrome aged 40 and older revealed the opposite, the
researchers reported in the Jan. 9 online edition of The

Memantine was given to 88 people with Down syndrome for one year, while
another 85 patients received a placebo (the “control” group). Some of the
participants had Alzheimer’s and some didn’t.

The investigators found that the brain function of the people in both
groups declined equally.

Serious adverse effects were experienced by 11 percent of the group
that took the medication. Meanwhile, 7 percent of the placebo group had
similar adverse events. Five people from the medication group died because
of these events, compared to four in the control group.

“Memantine is not an effective treatment in this group of patients. 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,” the study’s author, Clive Ballard, a professor
at the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases at King’s College London,
said in a journal news release.

Because nearly 40 percent of people with Down syndrome over 60 years of
age are diagnosed with dementia, the study authors pointed out that more
research is needed to determine the best way to treat dementia in these

“Further investment is urgently needed to develop treatments that are
effective in this important group of people,” the study’s co-author, Anne
Corbett, research manager at Alzheimer’s Society (U.K.), stated in the
news release.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
provides more information on Alzheimer’s disease.

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