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New Thinking About Alzheimer's Treatment

Current therapies are the triumph of hope over experience.

The State of Statins?

Observations that there appears to be an association between the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins and a lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease have prompted researchers to see whether these drugs could also help prevent it. As reported by WebMD, several studies presented at the conference here point to a link between heart disease risk factors and AD.

Statins also have anti-inflammatory effects that could be beneficial for Alzheimer's disease patients, and there is intriguing evidence indicating that the drugs may help to reduce the production of beta amyloid.

Yet to date, evidence about statins and Alzheimer's disease prevention has been mixed, and at least one study presented at the meeting suggests that the drugs may be less effective in people who have inherited a form of a gene that is associated with increased risk for AD and early-onset Alzheimer's.

"Whether eliminating the amyloid is going to eliminate the clinical picture, we don't know," Khatchaturian tells WebMD about current Alzheimer's disease research. "We have to start somewhere, but we may wind up with a big disappointment. That's science. There's no certainty. But compared to the amount of things we didn't know, compared to the total field of 10, 15, 20 years ago, I'm like a kid in a toy store."

Originally published July 23, 2004.

Medically updated April 6, 2005.


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