An experimental treatment for Alzheimer's may allow treatment at a later stage than other medications. The drug, known as Memantine, has been on the market for a decade in Germany and was recently recommended for approval by the European Union's equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration.
Memantine works through a different mechanism than other, currently approved Alzheimer's drugs, such as Aricept, that have been shown to affect progression of early stage disease. The final devastating period, where Memantine may help, can also be the disease's most long lasting.
But researchers found that Alzheimer's patients who received Memantine deteriorated mentally at a considerably lower rate than patients who received placebo. While some are calling it a significant advance in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, others remain much more cautious about the drug's potential and how it's benefits could be misinterpreted.
Forrest Pharmaceuticals, the U.S. manufacturer of the drug, is expected to file for FDA approval sometime this year. The company is also exploring uses for the drug in earlier stages of the disease and in conjunction with currently approved treatments.