Huperzine A for Alzheimer’s Disease

In the first trial outside of China, the National Institute on Aging currently is conducting a phase II clinical trial evaluating huperzine A in doses of 200 μg or 400 μg twice a day among patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The aims of the study are to determine if huperzine improves cognitive function, global clinical status, activities of daily living, and behavior, and to evaluate the tolerability of the supplement. Additionally, the study is investigating the relationship between blood cholinesterase activity and cognitive function.

In an interview, principal investigator Dr. Paul Aisen said, “We think it’s a very promising treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Based on our work so far and the Chinese literature, we hope this will be more effective and better tolerated than existing treatments. We’re optimistic.”

Dr. Aisen, professor of neurology and medicine and director of the memory disorders program at Georgetown University, Washington, said that he and his colleagues confirmed the compound’s safety and its “excellent” cholinesterase inhibition in phase I tests. He added that laboratory tests have shown that huperzine exhibits N-methyl-d-aspartate antagonism similar to that shown by memantine, and that it appears to have some very promising neuroprotective activities.

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