Washington: Women with Alzheimer's disease showed stable cognition for a year when a drug that is more commonly used to treat advanced prostate cancer was added to their drug regimen, a study says.
"This is the first time any therapy has been shown to stabilise memory loss over a year," said Craig Atwood, associate professor of medicine at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The clinical trial followed 109 women with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Some were treated with the drug Lupron Depot, used to treat prostrate cancer in men, and with an inhibitor such as Aricept which does little to slow memory loss.
Others taking an inhibitor received low-dose Lupron alone or a placebo.
The women treated with both Aricept and high-dose Lupron Depot had almost no decline in their scores on a test of memory, found the study.
There was a slight decline for those taking an inhibitor and low-dose Lupron and in those only taking an inhibitor after one year.
Men with prostate disease who were treated with Lupron had a 34 to 55 percent decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease compared with prostate-cancer patients who didn't receive the drug.
"Lupron acts to suppress gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) which is produced in the brain and controls ovulation in women and spermatogenesis in men," Atwood explained.
This also decreases the production of gonadotropins, hormones that regulate the synthesis of sex steroids like estrogen and testosterone.
"This promising combination therapy (inhibitors and Lupron Depot) warrants testing in early and late stages of Alzheimer's disease," Atwood concluded.
The study appeared in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.