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Prostate Drug Helps Women with Alzheimer’s

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerFebruary 3, 2015

A new study evaluated the effectiveness of Lupron, a drug commonly used to treat prostate cancer in men, on treating Alzheimer’s disease in women. Previous studies have linked Lupron to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s in men who were using the drug to treat prostate cancer.

The study found that women who received a high dose of the drug, also performed better on memory tests than those who received a low dose or a placebo.

Repurposing A Drug for Alzheimer’s Treatment

A recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has found that a drug commonly used to treat prostate cancer could help women with Alzheimer’s.

Researchers evaluated over 100 women living with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s during the study. Some participants were given a drug called Lupron Depot, which is commonly used to treat cancer in men and endometriosis in women. Others received a low dose of Lupron or a placebo. All participants were also taking an acetylcholinesterase such as Aricept, which helps boost mood, but is not thought to slow cognitive decline.

The study found that women who took both Aricept and received the high dose of Lupron, demonstrated almost no decline in scores on their memory test. 

Co-lead author of the study Dr. Craig Atwood, said that earlier studies completed with hundreds of thousands participants found that men who were being treated for prostate cancer with Lupron Depot had a 34-55% decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s when compared to other men who had prostate cancer but did not receive Lupron.

A Promising Treatment

Dr. Atwood expressed his hope that Lupron could be used to treat Alzheimer’s by saying:

“This is the first time any therapy has been shown to stabilize memory loss for over a year.”

Lupron Depot suppresses a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). The hormone is produced in the brain and controls spermatogenesis and ovulation. When the hormone is decreased, the production of gonadtropins is also decreased. Gonadtropins are hormones that regulate estrogen and testosterone. When GnRH and gonadtropins are decreased with Lurpon, the negative effects of elevated GnRH and gonadtropins on the brain, which occurs following menopause, are alleviated.

Dr. Atwood went on to say, “This promising combination therapy (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and Lupron Depot) warrants testing in early and late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. However… it remains to be seen whether this therapy will ever be tested in further clinical trials and reach the market.”

What do you think about using Lupron to treat Alzheimer’s? Have you seen the positive effects of using this drug to treat prostate cancer on someone with Alzheimer’s? 

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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