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Alzheimer's Drug Improves Some Senility

November 12, 1986|From Reuters

BOSTON — Medical researchers have found a drug that appears to improve at least temporarily some of the senility caused by Alzheimer's disease, according to a report published today.

The treatment, which uses tablets of a drug called tetrahydroaminoacridine (THA), is not a cure. But results show that in many victims the pills may improve part of the mental deterioration caused by Alzheimer's, especially when the patient is in the early stages of the disease.

The results are preliminary because only 17 Alzheimer's sufferers were studied, the researchers reported in today's edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. Full-scale tests will be needed before THA can be approved for general use.

Until now, there has been no treatment for Alzheimer's, which makes the mind gradually deteriorate and kills its victims generally in six to 12 years.

Led by Dr. William Koopmans Summers of UCLA, the team found that THA not only helped 16 of 17 victims, it produced dramatic improvement in 10.

One subject was able to resume employment on a part-time basis, and one retired subject was able to resume playing golf daily, Summers and his colleagues reported.

In other cases, they said, "there were improvements in activities of daily living, such as self-feeding at the family table, where total care had previously been required."

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