UR Medicine Alzheimer’s Agitation Study Among Top 10 of 2014

Jan. 11, 2015
Neurology Today Advisory Board Identifies Most Important Advances

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN), the world’s largest professional association of neurologists, has included a UR Medicine study among its picks for the most revolutionary research of 2014. The study, which originally appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that a high dose of a common antidepressant drug (citalopram) significantly reduced agitation in Alzheimer’s disease patients and helped alleviate caregiver distress.

“While the study on citalopram identified issues with side effects, given the lack of efficacious treatments for patients with dementia and agitation, citalopram and (related medications) are now treatment options for this group of patients that is so difficult to help,” the Academy noted in its official publication, Neurology Today. The journal’s editorial advisory board selected the studies included on the 2014 list.

“Our Alzheimer’s Disease Care, Research and Education (AD-CARE) program is on the leading edge of research in the development and testing of novel therapeutics that, in time, will defeat this disease,” says Yeates Conwell, M.D., director of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Office for Aging Research and Health Services. “But our researchers are also leaders in generating knowledge about how to treat older adults and their families today.”

Agitation can be one of the most heartbreaking symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and it is one of the most common reasons Alzheimer’s patients are moved out of their homes into higher levels of care.  Caregivers watch as their loved ones become increasingly short-tempered, physically restless, resistant to help, or even verbally and physically abusive. Treatment options are very limited.   

“The citalopram study produced a drop of hope in a field that has seen a sea of negative study results,” says Anton P. Porsteinsson, M.D., the Willam B. and Sheila Konar Professor of Psychiatry and lead author of the citalopram study. “It is an honor to have our efforts recognized by Neurology Today, and it will inspire us as we continue this important work.”

UR Medicine is one of the nation’s premier Alzheimer’s disease clinical research sites. Scientists are conducting numerous studies into experimental drugs that are designed to treat or prevent this devastating illness.  For more information, visit the AD-CARE web site.