Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have determined that a medication commonly prescribed for mild to moderate Alzheimers disease (AD) appears to cause physical improvements in the hippocampus and other brain regions of patients with the disease. These improvements could explain why the drug, donepezil (trade name Aricept), a cholinesterase inhibitor, is beneficial in treating the symptoms of some Alzheimers patients, the researchers said.
The findings were made by using magnetic resonance (MR) technology to track brain changes among patients taking the drug. According to the researchers, this is the first time MR has been used to observe the effects of a medication on brain structures of patients living with AD. The feasibility of using MR for such studies is likely to improve future research into treatments for AD and other brain disorders, the researchers said.
The study results appear in the Nov. 1, 2003, issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Tracey Koepke | Duke University Medical Center
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