An experimental drug appears to be helping people who suffer from memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease. The drug is called Dimebon. Early trials in Europe and Russia show it improves people's memories. Now another study is taking place in the United States.
Alzheimer's is a progressive disorder that gradually causes a decline in memory and language skills, and eventually, the ability to care for oneself. The risk of developing the disease increases as people grow older.
In Wisconsin, the Dean Foundation is one of a dozen research groups working with Alzheimer's patients to see if the drug Dimebon has long term effects. Dr. Leslie Taylor heads the study.
"It won't be a cure, but hopefully it will work better than anything that's out on the market right now for Alzheimer's," she said.
Ivanka Grabarek was diagnosed with Alzheimer's last June. She has been in the clinical trial. But she and her husband, Bill do not know whether she is taking Dimebon or a placebo.
Bill Grabarek spoke by phone about the study. He believes it is important.
"It's slow and uncertain, but you know, I generally feel the public will also benefit from just the data that is generated," he said.
Dr. Taylor says earlier trials showed that Dimebon improves memory for a year.
"It would be really huge. It would be entering into a whole new territory for treating Alzheimer's disease," she said.
This final stage of testing will last about two years. Then the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will decide whether to approve the drug for all people with Alzheimer's.