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.
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.