There has been very little good news when it comes to preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease. Billions have been spent on drug development, but there is little, or nothing, to show effort
A new study from Johns Hopkins University ( :. Neurolmage Clínica , online, February 21, 2015 ) may have discovered an exciting new use for an old drug. Keppra was first approved as an anticonvulsant to treat epilepsy in 2000. In 2008 it became available generically as levetiracetam. That makes it quite affordable drug, although we have received a number of reports of patients some generic formulations may not work as well as brand Keppra to prevent seizures.
Now, researchers are reporting that this medication can calm overactivity in the parts of the brain that may be responsible for memory problems and cognitive impairment mild. We’re basically talking about brain fog. When part of the brain called the hippocampus becomes overactive, it can portend a further deterioration in thinking and memory and eventually lead to full-blown disease Alzheimer’s.
The researchers used the gold standard format, a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to test the effects of levetiracetam on the brain. data from 54 participants who had been diagnosed with dementia, loss of memory pre-analyzed. They define these patients as “amnestic mild cognitive impairment” or aMCI. The remaining 17 were healthy volunteers with normal brain function.
Subjects received different doses of levetiracetam, ranging from 62.5 mg twice a day at 125 mg twice a day all the way to 250 mg twice daily. The subjects had their brain activity measured in the MRI scanner. They were also tested for memory and cognitive performance.
What was the outcome of the investigation?
And the envelope, please! Both low doses of levetiracetam (62.5 and 125 mg) improved memory and normalized excess activity in the hippocampus. In his own words, the researchers reported:
“The main focus in the present study was to evaluate the effects of treatment with atypical antiepileptic drug, levetiracetam, the memory performance in the task of scanning and fMRI [functional magnetic resonance imaging ] signals aMCI [amnestic mild cognitive impairment] patients. in the present study, low doses of levetiracetam (62.5 and 125 mg twice [twice a day]) significantly improved memory performance in the task of scanning attenuation hyperactivity, an effect that was statistically significant at 125 mg twice … the new results also suggest that in the dose range of 62.5 to 125 mg BID, levetiracetam confers a benefit on the network properties system memory medial temporal lobe. ”
what makes this research is intriguing that used very low doses of levetiracetam. A standard dosing regimen for epilepsy would be 500 mg twice a day up to 3000 mg per day. The dose used in this study dementia was an eighth to a quarter of the lowest dose used to control seizures.
This creates an interesting challenge for doctors who want to experiment with this drug. It is only available in tablets of 250 mg (or more) strengths. The only way a doctor could approximate the dose would use the oral solution (100 mg / ml) and have a pharmacist make adjustments suitable dosage and instruct patients accordingly.
What are the side effects?
at very low doses used in this experiment is suspected of levetiracetam-related adverse reactions were probably slight, but the investigators reported no complications. That may be partly because the study was so short. However, we believe it is necessary to let readers know what the highest potential adverse reactions dose used to control epilepsy might be.
Levetiracetam Side Effects
- Fatigue, tiredness, lack of energy
- digestive disorders (nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting)
- changes in behavior (agitation, anxiety, irritability, hostility, confusion, depression)
- dizziness, vertigo,
- Sore throat, sinusitis, nasal discharge, infection
- rash (requires immediate medical attention)
- blood disorders instability
we are very impressed with this investigation. It is the first good news we’ve seen in relation to cognitive impairment, memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease in a very long time.
However, this is a preliminary study. Since only lasted a few weeks, it is impossible to know whether the benefits of levetiracetam will remain. Although animal research seems to confirm that the drug should be useful, longer, larger studies are essential.
There is a problem, however. Levetiracetam is available generically. That means no drug manufacturer is likely to spend money on a drug that has lost its patent
The principal investigator, neuroscientist Michela Gallagher, PhD, concludes :.
“What we want to find out now is whether the treatment for a longer time will prevent further cognitive decline and slow or halt the progression of Alzheimer’s dementia.”
hope professor Gallagher will continue its exciting line of research and other researchers will also join the effort. We are in an urgent need for better strategies for prevention and treatment of this devastating disease. Hopefully the preliminary results are confirmed by future research.
The full article can be access this link . However he is warned. It is written in the heavy neuroscientific jargon and is a bit difficult to disentangle. However, other neuroscientists hope will read this research, and keep an open mind and consider the evidence of levetiracetam themselves.
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