A medication developed and commercialized for treating advanced prostate cancer may also help stabilize cognitive impairment in women who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and recently published at the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The research team analyzed a series of drug therapies, identifying one particular drug combination that could avoid cognitive impairment: Aricept and Lupron Depot. “This is the first time any therapy has been shown to stabilize memory loss over a year,” explained Dr. Craig Atwood, who is a co-lead author in the study and associated professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, in a press release.
The study “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“, summarized the conclusions of clinical studies, initiated by Dr.Richard Bowen at the former Voyager Pharmaceutical Corporation. The researchers analyzed data from 109 female patients who suffered from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
A group of participants were being treated with leuprolide acetate (Lupron Depot), a drug typically administrated in male prostate cancer patients, as well as acetylcholineesterase inhibitor, including Aricept, a drug that enhances patients mood without damaging their memory. In parallel, another group of patients were used as controls and received acetylcholineesterase inhibitor along with low-dose Lupron or placebo.
Researchers observed that patients receiving Aricept and high-dose Lupron Depot presented only a small decline in memory loss, while patients being administrated with an acetylcholineesterase inhibitor and low-dose Lupron registered a higher decline in memory loss.
“This promising combination therapy (acetylcholineesterase inhibitors and Lupron Depot) warrants testing in early and late stages of Alzheimer’s disease,” stated Dr. Atwood. “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.”
Lupron works by suppressing the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) produced in the brain and responsible for either ovulation in women, or spermatogenesis in men. However, the drug reduces the production of gonadotropins, which are also the hormones that control the synthesis of the sex steroids estrogen and testosterone. Therefore, the drug is not only used to treat prostate cancer, but also estrogen-sensitive breast cancer, endometriosis, and premature puberty.