Treatments for Memory Disorders
Currently, there are no cures for Alzheimer's disease or most other kinds of dementia. However, there are many medical illnesses and medications that can either cause memory problems or worsen an existing dementia. For this reason our evaluation is extremely thorough to uncover any such conditions. In the absence of a cure, the goal is to find specific ways to help manage the patients problems and improve the condition of the patient and the family who cares for him or her. Certain medications and therapies are useful for managing the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, and more treatments are on the horizon.
The Center for Comprehensive Care and Research on Memory Disorders is committed to going beyond the diagnosis by providing ongoing care and support to patients and families through out the course of the illness. Backed with the resources of an academic medical center known for its innovative programs, physicians and researchers here at the University of Chicago advance the latest in medications and research, helping to manage symptoms and provide relief for patients with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
A decade ago, very few compounds were being developed specifically for Alzheimer's disease. Within the last several years a family of drugs have become available for the treatment of Alzheimer's. Currently, these drugs include:
- Exelon (rivastigmine)
- Aricept (donepezil)
- Razadyne (galantamine)
- Namenda (memantine)
The first three drugs work by preventing a normal brain enzyme from breaking down a neurochemical used in making memories, called acetylcholine. Namenda works by protecting the brain from damaging effects of another neurochemical called glutamate.
Today, dozens of drugs that may improve cognitive and behavioral symptoms and slow progression of the disease are being studied. In addition, several experimental drugs have begun to show promise in enhancing nerve cell communication, regulating defective cell processes, protecting nerve cells from damage brought on by toxins, and repairing damaged nerve cells in the brain.