Researchers say a new epilepsy drug holds promise as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The findings, published in Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, reinforce the theory that brain hyperexcitability plays an important role in Alzheimer's disease, and that anticonvulsant drugs - drugs that prevent or reduce the severity of seizures - represent a promising treatment that deserve further human studies.
In previous studies, several groups have tested the effects of the widely used anticonvulsant drug levetiracetam in both rodent models as well as two clinical trials in patients with early signs of Alzheimer's disease. The findings suggest it may slow some of the symptoms of the disease, including memory loss.
In this newest research, researchers 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. The researchers 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. They also points out that the current study represents very preliminary data with respect to treating patients with Alzheimer's disease.
"Larger clinical studies in human subjects will be needed before we can determine whether anticonvulsant therapy will be part of our future therapeutic arsenal against Alzheimer's," the researchers concluded.