Though scientists are still hoping for a breakthrough that will lead toward completely preventing Alzheimer’s disease, they’ve recently focused on the drugs donepezil and memantine in an effort to slow the condition’s progression. Here is some information on the studies on these two medications and how they could affect Alzheimer’s.
Donepezil vs. Memantine
Donepezil has long been used to treat early-stage Alzheimer’s. The drug is an enzyme blocker that restores the natural balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Memantine is more often used to treat more advanced Alzheimer’s. It works by blocking the action of glutamate in the brain, which is believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s symptoms. Neither drug cures Alzheimer’s, but they can both potentially slow the progression of the disease.
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Possible Benefits of Combination Therapy
A study published in the journal Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders showed a combination therapy using both donepezil and memantine may be more effective in slowing Alzheimer’s-related functional and cognitive decline than single-drug therapy. Researchers from the memory disorders unit of Massachusetts General Hospital followed a group of 382 individuals with Alzheimer’s for an average of 2.5 years. This was the first study of its kind to look at the long-term benefits of these medications.
Results of the Combination Therapy Study
At the end of the study, the participants were reevaluated to determine their level of cognitive function and their ability to engage in activities of daily living. Even when taking into consideration the differences in how early they were diagnosed as well as other underlying health conditions, the group that received both donepezil and memantine showed significantly less cognitive decline and a higher level of function than the groups that received no medication or donepezil alone. The researchers didn’t study memantine on its own because donepezil and similar drugs were already in widespread use by the time it was released.
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Further Advances in Combination Therapy
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug called Namzaric, which offers fixed doses of both donepezil and memantine in one capsule. The medication comes in two different strengths, and the capsules can even be opened and sprinkled on food for individuals who have difficulty swallowing.
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