Two new drugs, memantine and cholinesterase inhibitors, have recently been approved by the FDA for use in treating Alzheimer’s patients. Both drugs address the problem of cognitive dysfunction which is very significant in Alzheimer’s disease.
Clinical trials are an approved and safe way to measure the safety and effectiveness of new drugs. Under this carefully monitored regiment, new drugs are introduced to patients and the outcomes can be measured in a controlled environment, noting their impact on the disease and patient. Clinical trials provide the only mechanism for developing new drug protocols and moving them to market, thereby coming closer and closer to disease prevention.
Average approach to Alzheimer’s disease therapy
Each Alzheimer’s patient receives an individualized treatment plan, depending upon the doctor’s recommendations following a careful assessment and measurement of relevant factors, such as:
• An overall health appraisal and collection of the patient’s medical history
• Measurement of the disease’s progression thus far
• Identifying what drug and treatment therapies are tolerable to the patient
• Assessing the patient’s prospects into the future
• The wishes of the patient or of his guardians
Cognitive function is seriously impacted by Alzheimer’s disease
One of the most serious and debilitating outcomes of Alzheimer’s is that the patient loses the ability to access memory and learn new concepts. This is due to brain cell death and the destruction of the synapses, the connectors, between cells which worsens as the disease advances. Medications available today on the market cannot reverse this damage caused to the cells and synapses. The best they can offer is a lessening of the symptoms and slight improvement in mental outlook of the patient.
Neurotransmitters are key to neuron communication
The two new drugs, cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine both act on neurotransmitters. In the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, neuron communication is hindered by damaged synapses. Cholinesterase inhibitors decelerate the process that is the cause of neurotransmitter damage. Memantine addresses glutamate, which when attached to the cell’s surface creates a condition whereby calcium is able to enter the cell. Alzheimer’s disease results in overproduction of glutamate, leading to higher levels of calcium and cell destruction. Memantine will limit the amount of calcium going into the cells.