Treating Dementia Differently

Downs syndrome patients with dementia do not respond to treatment the same

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Comorbidity within disease can cause a variety of issues in terms of symptoms and treatment, and a new study looks into its effects on patients with Down's syndrome. 

Unfortunately, the presence of Down’s syndrome in Alzheimer’s changes the effectiveness of treatments, research suggests. Memantine (trade name Namenda), a frequently prescribed medicine for Alzheimer’s, was found to be ineffective at treating symptoms in patients with Down’s.

"Ask a healthcare professional about alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s."

“There is a striking absence of evidence about pharmacological treatment of cognitive impairment and dementia in people older than 40 years with Down's syndrome,” notes Clive Ballard, M.D., Ph.D., and corresponding author on the study.

“Despite promising indications, memantine is not an effective treatment.

Dr. Ballard, professor of translational neuroscience at King’s College in London, worked with nine professional colleagues on the study. It took place in four learning disability centers in the United Kingdom and Norway over the course of one full year.

173 adults over age forty with clinically diagnosed Down’s syndrome, with and without symptoms of dementia, participated in the trial. The team divided the participants into experimental and control groups for the drug.

Either memantine or a placebo was ingested on a strict schedule in order to ensure accurate results in all prognostic categories including age, sex, location, symptoms, memory, executive function, and total Down’s attention.

Multiple widely accepted functional scales were used to gather data, including DAMES executive function scales and parts one and two of the adaptive behavior scale (ABS).

The team looked for cognitive and functional changes in response to memantine in order to determine effectiveness.

According to the doctor’s findings, “Both groups declined in cognition and function but rates did not differ between groups for any outcomes.” Moreover, ten experimental participants and six controls experienced serious and adverse reactions during the trial.

These results suggest that treatments effective for the average Alzheimer’s patient may not be effective on those with Down’s syndrome.

The study was published in The Lancet.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 12, 2012
Last Updated:
January 13, 2012