Researchers have discovered a drug used to treat delusions in Parkinson’s patients had a similar effect on people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The findings were presented at a conference in San Diego.
This could become the first treatment for psychosis related to dementia. This drug has the potential to target some severe symptoms of hallucinations like anxiety, hostility, and abuse both verbal and physical. “This would be a very important advance,” said Dr Howard Fillit, chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and an independent expert, told a news portal.
Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer believes "there is a huge unmet need for better treatment" as the field's primary focus has been finding a cure dementia. The drug is called pimavanserin, which is taken as a daily pill. It was first approved to be used to treat psychosis related to Parkinson’s in 2016. Experts believe the medication works to treat the issue by stopping a brain chemical that is thought to encourage delusions.
Some studies suggest many people living with dementia are likely to also develop psychosis. “It’s terrifying,” Dr Jeffrey Cummings of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas told a news portal. Adding, "You believe that people might be trying to hurt you. You believe that people are stealing from you. You believe that your spouse is unfaithful to you. Those are the three most common false beliefs."
For the study, 400 people with dementia and psychosis participated in the study. The team gave the entire group a very low dose of pimavanserin for almost three months. The group was divided into two groups again based on the results of the first half of the study. Those who responded well to the medication continued to take it for six months. The others were given a placebo pill.
However, independent monitors decided to abruptly stop the investigation when they realised that those taking the dummy drug had a higher chance of relapsing. The condition also had the potential to get worse. The team notes they did not see any serious side effects in those taking pimavanserin. Some of the patients in this group did suffer from headaches and urinary tract infections.
Another study, conducted by University of Manchester researchers, discovered antioxidants and amino acids could help treat psychosis. Lead author Dr Firth, an honorary Research Fellow at The University of Manchester, told a news portal: "We conducted this review just to see if there is any 'real evidence' if such nutrients can actually help young people with psychosis.
"Certainly, there is early indication that certain nutrients may be beneficial, not to replace standard treatment, but as an 'add-on' treatment for some patients.
"A combined nutrient intervention, explicitly designed from the evidence-base in psychosis, may therefore confer larger and more beneficial effects for young people with this condition."