Although there still isn’t a proven method of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, a new study shows that taking Vitamin D may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. But for those patients that have already developed Alzheimer’s, there may be hope for a medicine that slows the progression of the mind-wasting disease, according to Reuters. Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co is starting a new clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of an experimental oral drug.
Vitamin D, often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, may be tied to women’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Two new studies reveal the link between brain health and the vitamin.
The first study, which was conducted by Dr. Cedric Annweiler of Anger University Hospital in France, looked at 498 women who took no vitamin D supplements and divided them into three groups: women who had Alzheimer’s, women who had no dementia, and women who had non-Alzheimer’s dementia. Dr. Annweiler found that women who developed Alzheimer’s had the lowest level of vitamin D intake at an average of 50.3 micrograms a week compared to women who didn’t develop dementia at all at an average of 59 micrograms a week.
Researchers at the Virginia Medical Center in Minneapolis conducted a similar study that analyzed the vitamin levels of 6,257 older women and followed them for four years. Women were given cognitive function tests to measure their mental skills, and researchers found those who had a low vitamin D intake were more likely to encounter cognitive decline and impairment.
Although the studies found a link between vitamin D and cognitive decline, this does not mean that low vitamin D levels caused the association. Regardless, the studies do emphasize the importance of getting enough of the sunshine vitamin.
For those patients who are already suffering from Alzheimer’s, Merck & Co Inc recently sated that the company would start a clinical trial of a new oral medicine that might help slow the disease. A group of 200 patients will initially be tested to compare the drug effectiveness with that of a placebo
The new drug, MK-8931, is the first of its kind to advance to this stage of clinical research and could potentially shut down the production of a protein that many researchers believe is the primary cause of the disease. A top scientist from the Alzheimer’s Association, Dr. William H. Thies, explains that if the studies succeed, a medicine that slows or even stops the progression of Alzheimer’s may be ready in three to five years.