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Antiseizure drug
may treat HIV-related dementia

Antiseizure drug
may treat HIV-related dementia

Drug used to prevent seizures shows promise in repairing damaged neurons.

Valproic acid, an antiseizure drug, has shown promise in treating HIV-related dementia, reports the Omaha World-Herald. A safety and efficacy trial of 22 HIV patients suffering from dementia showed that valproic acid helped improve nerve cell function and boosted cognitive performance, researchers from the University of Nebraska and the University of Rochester, N.Y., write in the journal Neurology. Brain scans also showed improvements in brain metabolism, the researchers report.

The study subjects were given smaller doses of the drug than is typically used to treat seizures. The researchers say these small doses of the medication could help protect neurons in the brain from damage caused by HIV, which leads to the onset of dementia. Low doses of the drug may also be useful in combating other neurological diseases caused by damage to brain and nerve cells, the researchers suggest.

"The bottom line is that not only is it safe and well-tolerated in this particular population of patients, but using a really small dose, we were actually able to restore nerve connections in an area of the brain that is really ravaged by HIV," Harris Gelbard, a Rochester professor of neurology and lead study investigator, told the World-Herald.

Additional studies are planned. (The Advocate)

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