Prostate Cancer Drug Lupron Slows Memory Loss In Female Alzheimer’s Patients

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by Isaura Santos |

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A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease titled A Clinical Study of Lupron Depot in the Treatment of Women with Alzheimer’s Disease: Preservation of Cognitive Function in Patients Taking an Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitor and Treated with High Dose Lupron Over 48 Weeks showed that women with Alzheimer’s disease evidenced a stable cognition, for a period of one year, when they received a drug regimen that contained a drug commonly used to treat advanced prostate cancer, Lupron. The study was carried on by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW).

Dr. Craig Atwood is a professor at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and is also the co-leading author of this study. He noted that this is the first therapy that worked as a memory loss stabilizer over a one year period.

The clinical trial followed 109 women suffering from mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer’s disease; this trial was initiated by Dr. Richard Bowen at the Voyager Pharmaceutical Corporation. Some patients received a treatment that consisted of leuprolide acetate, frequently used to treat men with cancer and endometriosis in women, and an acetylcholineesterase inhibitor like Aricept, used to improve the mood despite being inefficient to slow the memory loss. Other patients receiving the acetylcholineesterase inhibitor received a low-dose of Lupron alone or a received placebo.

After one year, women treated with a combination of Aricept and high-dose Lupron Depot evidenced very little decline (0.18 points) in their memory, measured through the ADAS-cog’s scores; in comparison, those receiving a low-dose Lupron and an acetylcholineesterase inhibitor evidenced a 4.21 decline and, finally, women receiving an acetylcholineesterase inhibitor, exclusively, declined 3.3.

Earlier epidemiological studies showed that men receiving a Lupron treatment for their prostate disease evidenced a 34 to 55 percent decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in comparison to the patients that did not receive the Lupron drug.

Lupron suppresses the brain-produced gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH); this hormone controls spermatogenesis in men and ovulation in women. Consequently, the production of gonadotropins decreases; these are important hormones in the regulation of the production of testosterone and estrogen, both sex steroids. Since Lupron affect these hormones, it is also used to treat premature puberty, endometriosis and sensitive breast cancer. It can also prevent the negative effects that occur after menopause.

“This promising combination therapy (acetylcholineesterase inhibitors and Lupron Depot) warrants testing in early and late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. However, since the company that performed this study is now out of business, it remains to be seen whether this therapy will ever be tested in further clinical trials and reach the market,” Atwood concluded in a press release.