Dementia is a horrible disease. The body may work ok, but the brain is slowly destroyed. What is left is a life without awareness of being alive.
Alzheimers is perhaps the most common and well known but certainly not the only type of dementia. Drugs used to treat dementia are minimally if at all effective in stopping progression of the dementia. These drugs at best can slow the disease down. Even worse, they have some serious side effects and in general increase the risk of dying. Oh and did I forget to mention that they cost a bloody fortune?
So we desperately need a drug which actually works and has fewer serious side effects. Along comes Nilotinib, which despite its unpronounceable name, might actually fit the bill for such a wonder drug.
In a recent trial involving only a dozen or so participants, significant improvement in dementia was noted. In fact, a few patients went from being nonverbal, unable to eat or dress themeselves, to being communicative and able to care for themselves. This is big. Despite some clever television commercials, there are simply no all star dementia drugs out there.
Yet it is too early to start prescribing this drug. This is just a small, unblinded study. Side effects in larger study groups and for longer time need to be determined. And more studies are needed to see if the positive effects are really there or just a statistical quirk.
Still, keep an eye on this drug. God willing we will finally have a drug that actually works well for Alzheimers dementia.