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Do antibiotics have a place in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease?

Posted Oct 01 2008 8:12pm

Dr. Mark Loeb, associate professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, presented a study in San Diego at the meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America that shows how antibiotics may slow brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease (October 9, 2003). Patients on two antibiotics, doxycycline and rifampin, for three months had significantly less loss of mental function than those given placebos.

Alzheimer’s disease causes progressive loss of mental function and affects more than 4.5 million North Americans. So far, the drugs approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimer’s disease are barely more effective than placebos. Several studies associate Alzheimer’s disease with infections caused by the bacteria chlamydia and mycoplasma, but the vast majority of neurologists do not feel that infection causes Alzheimer’s disease. The author of this study believes that antibiotics may prevent plaques from forming in nerves. The trial found that those in the placebo group lost significantly more intellect than those on antibiotics.

There is no specific test for Alzheimer’s disease, so doctors make the diagnosis by eliminating other causes of brain damage. It is reasonable to prescribe antibiotics to Alzheimer’s disease patients because today no effective medical treatment exists. The four FDA-approved Alzheimer's drugs, Cognex, Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl, slow the rate of brain damage only a little bit and do not stop progression of brain damage.

More on Alzheimer's disease

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