This study is the first of its kind to research a medication that may have the potential to block "tangles," one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease linked with memory loss and other symptoms of dementia. Tangles are abnormal brain tissue structures formed by unusual processing of a protein called "tau." Normally, tau is crucial for intracellular functioning and structure, but in Alzheimer's patients, a stringy cluster of tau and phosphate molecules form, leading to dysfunction that impairs the cell's ability to communicate with neighboring cells. This eventually leads to cell death, contributing to the confusion, disorientation and forgetfulness associated with Alzheimer's disease.
The "Valproate in Dementia" study, led by the Alzheimer's research group at the University of Rochester Medical Center, will target 300 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's who are living at home and have not yet shown signs of agitation. (Alzheimer's patients experience personality changes with symptoms of agitation: easy to anger, low frustration level and at its worst, physical aggression. The latter is one of the primary symptoms that prompt families to place loved ones in a skilled nursing facility.)
Scientists will study whether valproate reduces agitation in patients, and also can affect the deterioration of memory and daily functioning that occurs as the disease progresse
Contact: Alison Bibb
University Hospitals of Cleveland