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Alzheimer's patients receive boost

23rd March 2006

Patients suffering from severe Alzheimer's disease can prevent and even reverse the deterioration of their brain's cognitive functions by taking the donepezil drug.

Donopezil, which is usually used to treat milder cases of the degenerative Alzheimer's disease, improves the ability of sufferers to carry out daily activities, claim a group of Swedish scientists.

Almost 200 patients living in care homes took part in the Karolinska Institute's study, with results of the tests similar to those for a more established Alzheimer's drug, memantine, whose methodology the scientists followed.

"Donepezil slows, and can reverse some aspects of deterioration of cognition and function in individuals with severe Alzheimer's who live in nursing homes," said Professor Bengt Winblad, who led the research.

"If treatment can help patients in the late phase of dementia, without necessarily increasing the length of time they have severe Alzheimer’s disease, then this is a treatment option that should be available."

The report, which will be published in the Lancet, qualified its findings by acknowledging that some of the improved scores patients showed may have been caused by a combination of donopezil with other medications being taken.