A new study suggests a popular epilepsy drug may also be beneficial in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The study discusses use of the anti-seizure drug valproic acid to improve memory and reduce brain lesions in mice with an AD-like disease.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, showed that treating mice with valproic acid soon after the onset of disease shrank the brain plaques typical of AD and even prompted damaged nerves to start repairing themselves.
Most importantly, the drug improved the animals’ performance in a variety of memory-related tests.
The acid worked by blocking a cascade of enzymatic reactions that culminates in the accumulation of a protein called beta-amyloid, which builds up to toxic levels in AD.
Valproic acid helped mice less as their disease progressed, suggesting that future clinical trials should focus on people with early signs of AD.
Valproic acid has been given to people with AD in the past but memory improvement was never assessed in those studies.
The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Source: Rockefeller University Press