Epilepsy drug can help Alzheimer's patients

Epilepsy drug can help Alzheimer's patients

Recent research has shown that a common epilepsy drug can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at Vancouver-based University of British Columbia found that valproic acid (VPA) helps in curing Alzheimer by blocking the production of beta amyloids, a neurotoxic protein linked to Alzheimer's. Deposits or "plaques" made from beta amyloid build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients damaging their nerve cells and fibres, or "axons".

Study author, Professor Weihong Song, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, said that they found that if they used VPA in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, in model mice, it reduced plaque formation and further prevented brain cell death and axon damage. The drug also improved performance in memory tests.

He added that a pilot trial testing the effect of VPA on Alzheimer's patients is now under way with results expected next year.

The research showed that valproic acid also shrinks plaques in the brains of mice with a version of Alzheimer's disease; it even prompted damaged nerves to start repairing themselves. The acid worked by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme essential to the production of beta amyloid protein.

But VPA had less of an effect as the disease progressed.