Scientists at the University of British Columbia have claimed that the medication for epilepsy could offer a cure for Alzheimer's disease.
The findings reinforce the theory that brain hyperexcitability plays an important role in the disease and that anticonvulsant drugs that prevent or reduce the severity of seizures-represent a promising treatment that deserve further human studies.
In the study, Dr. Haakon Nygaard tested the effects of brivaracetam, an anticonvulsant drug still in clinical development for epilepsy, and closely related to levetiracetam. Since it is 10 times more potent than levetiracetam, it can be used at lower dosages. Nygaard and his colleagues found that it completely reversed memory loss in a rodent model of Alzheimer's disease.
While the drug appears effective, the researchers are unclear how it works to reverse memory loss. Nygaard also points out that the current study represents very preliminary data with respect to treating patients with Alzheimer's disease.
Nygaard said that they now had many different research groups who were using antiepileptic drugs that engaged the same target, and all pointed to a therapeutic effect in both Alzheimer's disease models, and patients with the disease. Both the drugs were likely to be tested in larger clinical trials in Alzheimer's disease over the next five to 10 years.