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Valproic Acid May Treat Alzheimer's

Epilepsy Drug Shows Promise When Given Early Enough in Tests on Mice
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 27, 2008 -- Valproic acid, an epilepsy drug also used to treat bipolar disorder, may have benefits against Alzheimer's disease if given before Alzheimer's gets severe, a new study shows.

Researchers report that mice genetically at risk for Alzheimer's disease develop less brain plaque (a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease) if they're given valproic acid.

And when those mice got valproic acid early enough, their memories didn't suffer as much as other at-risk mice that didn't get valproic acid.

The researchers -- who included Hong Qing, MD, PhD, of Canada's University of British Columbia in Vancouver -- didn't test valproic acid in people, but they speculate that valproic acid "might show significant improvements in early or mild Alzheimer's disease patients," but not in late or severe cases.

Qing's team notes that other researchers have tested valproic acid in Alzheimer's patients, but only to see if it's tolerable (it is) and if it curbed agitation and aggression (it didn't), not to see how it affects brain plaque or mental skills.

The study appears in today's edition of The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

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