Epilepsy drug reduces brain hyperactivity
One of the causes of epilepsy is too much activity in the brain. Levetiracetam is an antiepileptic drug that quiets the brain and reduces seizures. It was already established that amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) is caused by too much activity in the hippocampal region of the brain. aMCI results in memory loss earlier in life than is normal and at a much more significant degree. Additionally, aMCI has proven to be a good determiner of developing Alzheimer’s. The researchers at Johns Hopkins sought to know if the drug that calms brain activity for epileptics could be used to stem cognitive dysfunction.
Memory was improved with levetiracetam
Researchers administered varied dosages to a study group of 84 subjects. Sixty-seven already had symptoms of memory loss and the remainder were in the control group. A placebo was also administered. As subjects undertook specially designed tasks, MRI scans measured brain activity. It was proven that low dosages of levetiracetam not only quieted hyperactivity in the hippocampal region, but also that cognitive tasks were easier to accomplish. It was a very encouraging outcome, offering a glimmer of hope that memory loss can be treated through levetiracetam.
Further studies required
Researchers must discover if administration of levetiracetam over the long-term can stop decline in cognitive abilities, or if it can save a person from developing Alzheimer’s.
A new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University indicates there is promise for treating the debilitating damage to memory experienced by Alzheimer’s patients. The study was published recently in “NeuroImage: Clinical Documents.” One of the most emotionally difficult consequences of Alzheimer’s, for both the patient and family, is the profound loss of memory. Any chance to halt this memory loss, or even to reverse it, is the impetus behind significant research effort. In this case, it appears that a drug administered to epileptic patients may be the answer to halting memory loss.