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New Study Results Show Benefit for Alzheimer's Disease Patients Taking Lipitor(TM)

  [ 286 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • April 15, 2004

SUN CITY, Ariz., April 14 /PRNewswire/ --

Results of a Sun City, Arizona research study unveiled today in Montreal showed that Lipitor(TM), a cholesterol-lowering medication, slows the progression and reduces the deterioration of Alzheimer's Disease (AD). D. Larry Sparks, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Sun Health Research Institute, announced at a news conference today coinciding with the start of the 8th International Montreal/Springfield Symposium on Advances in Alzheimer's Therapy with more than 300 scientists from 15 countries worldwide in attendance.

Dr. Sparks is principal investigator for the 63-participant AD Cholesterol-Lowering Treatment Trial. A total of two-thirds of patients on active medication derived some clinical benefit. Half of the patients stabilized or actually improved. Participants in Dr. Sparks' one-year treatment trial received either Lipitor(TM) or a placebo. Conducted as a double-blind study, mild to moderately affected patients were allowed to continue use of the FDA-approved Alzheimer's medications (acetylcholine esterase inhibitors).

"This is truly exciting news," Dr. Sparks exclaims. "Results indicate not only a slowing in deterioration of function and memory but also an improvement in mood and behavior. No prior clinical trials have actually shown long-term improvement in patients with AD." Dr. Sparks' pioneering research has been consistently confirmed in other studies clearly suggesting that cholesterol may exacerbate the progression of AD.

"While trial results are preliminary, they provide important information for patients who suffer from AD. Future research is needed to answer important questions, such as: 'Will cholesterol-lowering medications prevent AD from occurring altogether if taken before the earliest onset of the disease?' and 'What about the benefits of statin therapy in combination with AD medications on the horizon?'" he says.

Although Dr. Sparks' findings show great promise, individuals are encouraged to seek the advice of their physicians regarding the suitability of using cholesterol-lowering medication. In Dr. Sparks' study, participants were not excluded from medications they already were taking for pre-existing conditions. Results indicate Lipitor(TM) was effective regardless of other medications already being taken, a reflection on the drug's effectiveness on a broad scale in real-life scenarios.

In addition to this trial, Dr. Sparks also is participating in the ongoing LEADe study sponsored by Pfizer, Inc., which is comparing the efficacy and safety of Lipitor(TM) in combination with donepezil (Aricept(TM)) in a large group of patients with mild to moderate AD. Dr. Sparks' AD Cholesterol-lowering Treatment Trial was the first clinical trial of its kind designed to test the clinical benefits of atorvastatin (Lipitor(TM)) in both memory and behavioral measures.

The study received initial support from the Institute for the Study on Aging (ISOA), which awarded Dr. Sparks a $450,000 grant. Additional support and funding came from Pfizer Pharmaceutical, Inc., which also supplied Lipitor(TM) and placebo for the study. The ISOA, a New-York based private foundation established by the Estee Lauder Trust whose mission is drug discovery for AD, gave its full support to Dr. Sparks upon realizing the potential of this study for individuals with AD.

"The ISOA was the funding catalyst for this pioneering study," explains Dr. Sparks. "They, together with Pfizer, supported the study because they believed in the research rationale and really took a chance that I was on the right track." "Today, everyone is a winner with this news because it brings us one step closer to another effective treatment for this mind-robbing disease."

Dr. Sparks' work has generated a significant amount of local and national interest. His pioneering studies linking high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and elevated cholesterol levels to AD have been highlighted by many well-respected news outlets. These include Newsweek (two separate stories), CNN, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Reuters and Bloomberg news services, ABC Radio and research publications such as Science and Neurology.

The principal investigator also has led studies showing that many of the changes in the brain characteristic of AD can be found in patients with critical coronary-artery disease or hypertension. Research indicates the onset of these diseases can occur approximately 10 to 15 years prior to the onset of the first signs of AD. In less than a generation of painstaking investigation, scientists at the internationally recognized Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, Arizona, northwest of Phoenix, have developed breakthroughs for some of the most debilitating age-related diseases affecting seniors.

Source: Sun Health Research Institute

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