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New Drug Cerebrolysin Shows Promise for Dementia
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 3, 2013
Cerebrolysin, a promising new treatment made from pig brain proteins, has been found to enhance cognitive function in patients with vascular dementia — a type of dementia caused by damage to the network of blood vessels supplying the brain.
Those with vascular dementia often experience difficulty thinking quickly, concentrating and communicating and may suffer from seizures and severe confusion. There is currently no definitive treatment for vascular dementia.
For the study, researchers looked at data from six randomized controlled trials involving 597 people. All participants received Cerebrolysin intravenously in different daily concentrations and for different treatment periods, from a few weeks to three years, depending on the trial.
Cerebrolysin is currently approved in 44 countries worldwide, for stroke, dementia, and traumatic brain injury. Cerebrolysin is currently in Phase 3 trials in multiple countries in Europe. It is manufactured by Ebewe Pharmaceutical.
Cerebrolysin significantly improved cognitive function compared to standard care alone or placebos. Participants were tested on their recall, arithmetic or other cognitive abilities. The drug also had a small positive effect on patients’ overall clinical state. There was also some suggestion that long-term treatment was associated with greater benefits, although only two trials looked at long-term effects.
“Our review suggests that Cerebrolysin can help improve cognitive and global function in patients with mild to moderate severity vascular dementia,” said researcher Li He, M.D., of the Department of Neurology at Sichuan University in Sichuan, China.
“The results are promising but due to low numbers of trials, inconsistencies between trials, risk of bias in the way some of the trials were conducted and lack of long-term follow-up, we cannot yet recommend Cerebrolysin as a routine treatment for vascular dementia.”
None of the participants reported serious side effects from the drug, and non-serious side effects were no more common in those who took the drug compared to control groups.
“This indicates to us that Cerebrolysin is safe and well tolerated by patients with vascular dementia,” said He. “But the fact that it has to be given in regular intravenous infusions means it could be impractical for use on a large scale.”
Well, Cerebrolysin does certainly sound promising. I would be very tempted to try it except for 2 main reasons: First it is only administered by intramuscular injection or Intravenously. Though I do not have any great needle-phobia (being Diabetic you get used to stabbing yourself with a needle even if it is just to test glucose levels), giving myself a shot every weekday for a few months isn't something I would seek out. In truth, it is something I actively avoid! Second, and most importantly, is the expense. Cerebrolysin is an unapproved drug available in the United States for research, no insurance will cover it, though I understand that it is legal to buy it as it is not a controlled substance. Since the recommended dosage is 5-10 mg/day 5 days a week for 3 months the cost is around $1200-$2400 at $40 for a 10/mg ampule. With the recommended 2 months off between treatment cycles it comes to over $3500-$7000 a year. Not many people with bvFTD have those kinds of resources left. Most are on disability, and unable to work. Many have no insurance other than Medicare.
If my insurance would cover it, I would seriously consider it in spite of the downside of being a human pincushion. As for now I guess I will reorder some Lion's Mane Mushroom Extract. I haven’t taken it for a year, and maybe it helps.
Comments are welcome.