A new study suggests that certain antidepressants may help to slow the development of Alzheimer's disease. But while the results are promising, the study may have brought forth more questions than it answered.
The research, conducted at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, in Philadelphia, found that the commonly used antidepressant, Celexa, might temporarily lower levels of a protein that clogs the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
But here's the thing, the study tested patients - healthy patients who did not have Alzheimer's disease - by using large doses for Celexa for two days. The study was short, small, and possibly not even applicable to patients who actually suffer from Alzheimer's. But the fact that the drug did lower levels of beta amyloid - the protein the builds up in the brain in patients with Alzheimer's - is leading some to hope that Celexa may help to slow the progression of the disease.
It's still way too early to tell what role Celexa - which comes with its own set of side effects - ay play in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Or whether or not other antidepressants in the same class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors -such as Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac - might also help prevent the protein buildup.
But for the 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer's disease, it does offer some hope that scientists might one day understand the disease well enough to stop it in its tracks - before it robs them of their memories and their livelihood.
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