The European Union's Committee of Proprietary Medicinal Products (CPMP) has recently recommended that the EU approve memantine for the treatment of moderately severe to severe Alzheimer's disease. Memantine is believed to be effective in protecting the cholinergic neurons that are destroyed in Alzheimer's disease.
Memantine is a derivative of the familiar anti influenza drug amantadine. It is currently available only in Germany, where it is used to treat Parkinson's disease and to speed the recovery of comatose patients, as well as to treat dementia. The use of memantine for Alzheimer's is based on the theory that excessive activation of N methyl D aspartate (NMDA) receptors may underlie the degeneration of cholinergic cells, leading to cognitive, social, and motor deficits. Memantine, a fast, voltage-dependent NMDA receptor antagonist, blocks the NMDA receptor in the presence of sustained release of low glutamate concentrations and thus attenuates NMDA receptor function.
A .pdf version of the CPMP opinion can be downloaded from the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products.—Hakon Heimer
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