Clinical Trial Planned for First Drug to Prevent Alzheimer's
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September 16, 2015

Levetiracetam, a drug prescribed for patients suffering from epilepsy, may have an exciting new use.

According to Consumer Affairs, researchers at Johns Hopkins University will receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct a major clinical trial assessing the drug's ability to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Scheduled to start in early 2016, it will be the first Phase 3 trial ever seeking a treatment option for the disease.

Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Michela Gallagher believes there is hope for this trial after concluding that levetiracetam calms hyperactivity in the brain of patients with a condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). This condition is thought to greatly increase the risk of Alzheimer's.

"We expect our upcoming trial to demonstrate efficacy in preserving cognition and memory in aMCI patients while delaying progression to the clinical stage of Alzheimer's dementia," Gallagher told Consumer Affairs.

Researchers will be able to skip the first two phases as levetiracetam is not a new drug, having been on the market for over a decade. Phase 3 involves administering the drug to large groups of people to gauge its efficacy. If results are favorable in this stage, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) usually allows it to be marketed.