UW Study Examines Potential Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

The goal of the trial, which is titled, Leuprolide plus Cholinesterase Inhibition to reduce Neurological Decline in Alzheimer’s, or LUCINDA, is to determine whether the injectable medication leuprolide can slow or prevent a decline in thinking abilities and functioning in women with Alzheimer’s disease who are also taking a cholinesterase inhibitor medication, such as donepezil, to manage disease symptoms. This study is led by a team at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York with enrollment underway at UW–Madison as well as the University of Miami, Florida.

Currently, leuprolide is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of prostate cancer in men, endometriosis in women and early puberty in children, but LUCINDA will look at repurposing leuprolide for Alzheimer’s disease, according to Craig Atwood, professor of medicine, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“This medication is already widely available and relatively inexpensive,” said Atwood, who has a doctorate in biochemistry. “If this trial can demonstrate that leuprolide is effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease, we have the potential to help millions of people avoid the rapid mental decline and devastating impacts of this disease.”

The LUCINDA trial will build upon previous research conducted by Atwood and others who tested the efficacy and safety of leuprolide in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Using leuprolide and donepezil together during that clinical trial successfully halted cognitive decline and was correlated with research participants being able to conduct self-care activities over the course of a year, according to Atwood.

“We are hopeful that LUCINDA will provide similar benefits,” he said. “Intriguingly, epidemiological studies have demonstrated that risk of death as a result of Alzheimer’s disease may be decreased by 50% in those treated with a medication such as leuprolide.” Read more…