Cerebrolysin, a promising new treatment made from pig brain proteins, has been found to enhance cognitive function in patients with vascular dementia — a type of dementia caused by damage to the network of blood vessels supplying the brain.
Those with vascular dementia often experience difficulty thinking quickly, concentrating and communicating and may suffer from seizures and severe confusion. There is currently no definitive treatment for vascular dementia.
For the study, researchers looked at data from six randomized controlled trials involving 597 people. All participants received Cerebrolysin intravenously in different daily concentrations and for different treatment periods, from a few weeks to three years, depending on the trial.
Cerebrolysin is currently approved in 44 countries worldwide, for stroke, dementia, and traumatic brain injury. Cerebrolysin is currently in Phase 3 trials in multiple countries in Europe. It is manufactured by Ebewe Pharmaceutical.
Cerebrolysin significantly improved cognitive function compared to standard care alone or placebos. Participants were tested on their recall, arithmetic or other cognitive abilities. The drug also had a small positive effect on patients’ overall clinical state. There was also some suggestion that long-term treatment was associated with greater benefits, although only two trials looked at long-term effects.
“Our review suggests that Cerebrolysin can help improve cognitive and global function in patients with mild to moderate severity vascular dementia,” said researcher Li He, M.D., of the Department of Neurology at Sichuan University in Sichuan, China.
“The results are promising but due to low numbers of trials, inconsistencies between trials, risk of bias in the way some of the trials were conducted and lack of long-term follow-up, we cannot yet recommend Cerebrolysin as a routine treatment for vascular dementia.”
None of the participants reported serious side effects from the drug, and non-serious side effects were no more common in those who took the drug compared to control groups.
“This indicates to us that Cerebrolysin is safe and well tolerated by patients with vascular dementia,” said He. “But the fact that it has to be given in regular intravenous infusions means it could be impractical for use on a large scale.”
Source: The Cochrane Library