Author(s): Jain KK
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Abstract Memantine, a non-competitive NMDA antagonist, has been approved for use in the treatment of dementia in Germany for over ten years. The rationale for use is excitotoxicity as a pathomechanism of neurodegenerative disorders. Memantine acts as a neuroprotective agent against this pathomechanism, which is also implicated in vascular dementia. HIV-1 proteins Tat and gp120 have been implicated in the pathogenesis of dementia associated with HIV infection and the neurotoxicity caused by HIV-1 proteins can be blocked completely by memantine. Memantine has been investigated extensively in animal studies and following this, its efficacy and safety has been established and confirmed by clinical experience in humans. It exhibits none of the undesirable effects associated with competitive NMDA antagonists such as dizocilpine. The efficacy of memantine in a variety of dementias has been shown in clinical trials. Memantine is considered to be a promising neuroprotective drug for the treatment of dementias, particularly Alzheimer's disease for which there is no neuroprotective therapy available currently. It can be combined with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors which are the mainstay of current symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Memantine has a therapeutic potential in numerous CNS disorders besides dementias which include stroke, CNS trauma, Parkinson's disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), epilepsy, drug dependence and chronic pain. If memantine is approved by the FDA for some of these indications by the year 2005, it can become a blockbuster drug by crossing the US$1 billion mark in annual sales.
This article was published in Expert Opin Investig Drugs
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy