Delay in Alzheimer's disease onset seen for first time

Hold for release until presented at 9 a.m. CDT April 13 at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in Miami and published in New England Journal of Medicine online on April 14

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A study led by Mayo Clinic shows for the first time that a drug appears to have a slowing effect -- though limited -- on the progression from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease. The findings will be published online in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 14.

"Our findings represent an important shift in the field of Alzheimer's disease treatment, in that this is the only study to date to demonstrate the ability to push back the clinical diagnosis of the disease," says Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and lead investigator of the trial. "This may be the sign of new horizons to come in attempting to alter the Alzheimer's disease process as early as possible, buying time for those who may later progress."

Dr. Petersen and his co-investigators are optimistic about these findings and what they represent. Rather than focusing on the effects of the particular drugs tested, Dr. Petersen indicates he is enthusiastic about the underlying concept -- causing any amount of postponement in the heretofore unstoppable progression of Alzheimer's disease. "This study may be the front-runner in shifting our sights toward earlier treatment of the Alzheimer's process, laying the groundwork for testing other drugs," says Dr. Petersen. "Mild cognitive impairment patients are a great population of people to target, hopefully with other treatments as well."

This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study compared vitamin E; donepezil, an Alzheimer's treatment drug; and placebo for delay or prevention of progression to Alzheimer's disease in mild cognitive impairment patients. These patients had the amnesic (memory-related) variety of mild cognitive impairment, a transitional stage between the forg

Contact: Lisa Lucier
Mayo Clinic

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