These findings, from the Memory Impairment Study, are the first to suggest than any agent can delay the clinical diagnosis of AD in people with MCI. The effects of the drug measured in this study "did not provide support for a clear recommendation for the use of donepezil" generally to forestall the diagnosis of AD in people with MCI, the researchers stated in their report, but they did note the potential importance of the findings for some patients. The data, they said, "could prompt a discussion" between clinicians and patients on the possibility of donepezil therapy in certain cases.
The findings were reported in the April 14, 2005, online The New England Journal of Medicine by principal investigators Ronald Petersen, Ph.D., M.D., of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, Leon Thal, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues. The research was funded in part by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and was conducted as part of the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), a nationwide clinical trials consortium supported by the NIA, a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"While the delay in progressing to Alzheimer's disease had a limited effect in this case, it comes at an early stage of memory loss, a critically important time for patients and families hoping that the disease can be held at bay," says Neil Buckholtz, Ph.D., chief of the Dementias of Aging Branch at the NIA.
As part of the study, the researchers examined the effect of donepezil and vitamin