Study offers hope in drug delaying Alzheimer's diagnosis

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A new study points to a drug's potential to delay the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in those with mild cognitive impairment.

The Memory Impairment Study found that those with MCI who took the drug donepezil were at reduced risk of progressing to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's during the first year of the trial. But by the end of the three-year study there was no benefit of the drug shown.

The findings, which appear online in the April 14th issue of "The New England Journal of Medicine," are the first to suggest that any agent can delay the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's among those with mild cognitive impairment. Vitamin E was also tested in the study and was found to have no effect at any time point when compared with placebo.

While the effects of the drug measured in the study did not provide enough evidence for a recommendation of donepezil, the data "could prompt a discussion" between clinicians and patients on using the drug in certain cases, researchers said.