Alzheimer’s Treatments in the Lancet

A new randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the lancet has shown that a Russian antihistamine drug called Dimebon has shown a positive effect in Alzheimer’s Disease (Doody et al, 2008). 183 patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimers disease were assigned to either Dimebon (20mg tds) or placebo. The Alzheimers disease assessment scale was used to assess performance at baseline and 26 weeks. If patients dropped out before completion, the last results were carried forwards (intention-to-treat, last observation carried forward). 88% of patients in the Dimebon arm and 82% in the placebo arm completed the study. The results showed a significant 4-point mean difference between Dimebon and placebo (p<0.0001). This study is interesting because it shows an improvement in scores, rather than a stabilisation of decline. The results of phase 3 trials are awaited.  In the same issue, another study reported the results of a post-mortem analysis of a phase I trial for an Amyloid-Beta peptide immunisation in people with Alzheimer’s disease (Holmes et al, 2008). The immunisation resulted in a significant decrease in plaques although this didn’t prevent a decline in functioning. This adds to the ongoing debate about the role of plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.


Doody R S et al. Effect of dimebon on cognition, activities of daily living, behaviour and global function in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The Lancet. 372. 207-215. 2008.

Holmes, C et al. Long term effects of Alpha-Beta 42 immunisation in Alzheimer’s Disease: follow-up of a randomised placebo-controlled phase 1 trial. The Lancet. 372. 216-223. 2008.


The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor.


  1. Dear S.D.P

    Thanks for your comment. I agree, it can be devastating to those afflicted as well as their loved ones. There are good treatments available at the moment for stabilising the condition as well as promising treatments on the horizon. There is lots of evidence to suggest that risk can be reduced by lifestyle changes. Diet, exercise, education, learning a second language, modifying cardiovascular or diabetic risk factors are all protective.



  2. Hello,
    My mother has the second to the last stage of alzheimers disease and progressed very fast after hitting her head at age 73, but was not obvious until the last 2 years. She is now eighty. My grandmother also had this with parkinson’s disease. I’m afraid for myself and for my mom. I’m familiar with cell biology and majoring in biology in college and read about the alpha/beta 42 injection. Is there a way that my mother or I can get it and is it farily safe. All my mom has is the exelon patch, which increases acytocholine release, and I’m not sure if my dad (age 85) is making sure she is getting it. Can you help us. My age is 43.
    Thanks, Sandra


    • Dear Sandra,

      Thank you for your comments and I’m sorry to hear about your mother and grandmother. I can’t give individual medical advice on this blog and I would recommend that you approach your General Practitioner. With regards to the injection – this might be the ABeta 42 vaccine that is being developed by several companies. All treatments have to go through clinical trials before they can be introduced into practice and the regulations will vary according to the country. These can be accessed by enrolling in clinical trials but there are usually strict criteria for entering into these trials and again this is something to discuss with your GP. I wish you and your family all the best




  3. Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Appreciate it


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