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    Prostate cancer drug could help Alzheimer's patients

    The prostate cancer drug leuprolide acetate (Lupron Depot), used in conjunction with acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI), slowed memory loss in female Alzheimer’s patients, according to a study.

    Published in the January 22 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the study was co-led by Richard L. Bowen with OTB Research in Raleigh, N.C., and Craig Atwood, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

    Researchers conducted a 48-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging study in women aged 65 years or older with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). A total of 109 women with mild to moderate AD and a Mini-Mental State Examination score between 12 and 24 inclusive were randomized to low dose Lupron Depot (11.25 mg.), high dose Lupron Depot (22.5 mg) or placebo injections every 12 weeks.

    Related: FDA approves new Alzheimer's drug

    While there were no statistically significant differences in primary efficacy parameters (ADAS-Cog and ADCS-CGIC), there was a non-statistically significant trend in favor of the high-dose Lupron group on the ADAS-Cog. There were no statistically significant differences in secondary efficacy parameters (NPI, ADCS-ADL, BI, and ADCS-Severity Rating). However, in the a priori designated subgroup analysis of patients taking an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI), there was a statistically significant benefit in the high dose group, compared to both the low dose and placebo groups as determined by ADAS-Cog, Bowen wrote.

    In fact, the women receiving the combination therapy had slowing memory loss.“This is the first time any therapy has been shown to stabilize memory loss over a year,” Atwood told WKOW in Madison, Wis. "It was a clear stabilization of cognition: they were brushing their teeth, dressing themselves, and these activities were maintained.”

    Atwood told WKOW that he began questioning if hormone declines following menopause and Alzheimer's were linked. "Absolutely, Lupron is one way of re balancing the axis of reproductive hormones," he said.

    “These data indicate that cognitive function is preserved in patients treated with high dose Lupron who were already using AChEIs,” Bowen wrote. “The positive interaction between Lupron and AChEIs warrants further investigation for the treatment of AD.”

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