Hunt Continues for Drugs to Save Memory

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    The race is on for drug companies and supplement producers to find a pill that will prevent or treat memory loss. It has been shown that 3 drugs prescribed for Alzheimer?s disease? donepezil, galantamine, and rivastigmine ?delay to some extent the loss of mental abilities in people with the illness. Pharmaceutical companies are in the process of investigating dozens of other compounds to see if they can help people who have memory difficulties but have not yet reached the Alzheimer?s stage. In fact, researchers are hopeful that drugs will eventually prevent the deficits that even healthy elderly people experience.

    Much of the excitement among the pharmaceutical companies stems from the progress in clarifying some of the brain processes and biochemical pathways that can help or delay memory storage and retrieval, according to Paul R. Solomon, PhD, a professor of psychology at Williams College. Researchers have said, however, that it would be at least 5 years before new ?cognitive enhancers? meet the standards for FDA approval.