Late-breaking news in understanding and treating neurological disorders

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 2:00 P.M. PT, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2006

Higher Dose of Glatiramer Acetate Is More Effective for Multiple Sclerosis Glatiramer acetate is an approved treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, the most common form of the disease. In the standard dosage, it slows the development of brain lesions and lessens the frequency of relapses, or episodes of symptom worsening. In this trial, 90 new patients who had never received the drug were treated with either the standard dose or twice as much for nine months. Patients receiving the higher dose had fewer relapses and fewer new brain lesions compared to those on the standard dose, without any increase in side effects. These results may support changing the standard form of treatment for multiple sclerosis. The study was funded by Teva Neurosciences.

New Imaging Technique Developed for Alzheimer's Disease
The brain of Alzheimer's disease patients accumulates clumps of proteins, called plaques and tangles, that contribute to the disease. Until now there has been no way to detect plaques and tangles in the brain of living patients. In this study, researchers show that a PET scan with a new imaging chemical, called FDDNP, can reveal the presence of these plaques and tangles. The lowest levels of plaques and tangles were in people without any cognitive impairment. Those with mild cognitive impairment, who are at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease, had higher levels, and those with Alzheimer's disease had the highest levels of all. Patients who began the study with mild cognitive impairment, but who then progressed to Alzheimer's disease, also had an increase in the level of plaques and tangles. This imaging technique will be used to study the disease process in more detail, and to test therapies designed to slow the course of the disease.

ApoE Gene Is a Major Risk Factor for Stroke in Asians
The ApoE gene is known to affect stroke risk in Caucasian populations, with the e2 and e4 gene forms increasing risk for intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), a type of stroke with very high mortality. In this four-year study of over 2,000 people of Asian ancestry, those carrying an e2 or e4 gene form were more than twice as likely to experience an ICH stroke as those without either form. This increased risk was greater than that seen in Caucasians carrying the same gene forms. These results may be useful for assessing the risk of ICH in people of Asian ancestry.

Sealing Heart Opening Reduces Migraine
The foramen ovale is an opening between the two upper chambers of the heart. It normally closes during fetal development, but remains open in up to 20 percent of all people, although it usually causes no symptoms. Patients who have undergone foramen ovale closure for other reasons have reported an improvement in migraine headaches. In this trial, 147 patients with migraine and an open foramen ovale received either no treatment or an operation to close the opening, and have been followed over six months. Initial results indicate that large openings are six times more common in migraine patients than the general population. The effectiveness of the treatment for reducing migraine will be announced at the meeting. The study was sponsored by NMT Medical, Inc.

No Slowing of Parkinson Disease by Experimental Drug
Parkinson disease is caused by death of brain cells that control movement. In this trial, investigators sought to determine if an experimental drug that improves cell survival in animal models could slow the progression of the disease in patients. A total of 403 patients received either a placebo (no treatment) or the drug (called CEP-1347) for approximately 21 months. At the end of the trial, patients receiving the drug fared no better than those receiving placebo, either in their need for symptomatic treatment, or in the worsening of the disease shown on brain scans. The study was supported by Cephalon, Inc.

New ALS-Dementia Gene on Chromosome 9
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) occurs when nerve cells die that control the muscles. In some cases it is due to an inherited gene, and occurs with a type of dementia called frontotemporal dementia (FTD). By analyzing the chromosomes in both affected and unaffected members of families with ALS and ALS/FTD, researchers discovered a region of chromosome 9 that carries a gene that causes most cases of ALS/FTD. They do not yet know what the gene does, but they have ruled out several candidates thought to be involved in ALS/FTD.

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The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 19,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson disease, and stroke.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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