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Jun 17, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- TWO DRUGS FAIL ALZHEIMER'S TEST

In a new test, two promising drugs, naproxen and rofecoxib, have failed to slow progression of Alzheimer's disease, scientists say. The researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center report neither drug slowed the cognitive decline that is the hallmark of the neurodegenerative disease. They also found patients taking either drug experienced more adverse effects than did those given a sugar pill. The study was the first of its kind to test the effectiveness of low-dose naproxen (sold under the brand name Aleve) and rofecoxib (sold under the name Vioxx) in curtailing the mental deterioration seen in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's. The researchers said they were disappointed the drugs failed to live up to the promise they had shown in previous laboratory and epidemiological experiments. "Based on this new research, these treatments cannot be recommended for use in clinical settings and should be suspended by any clinician who currently thinks NSAIDs stem the progression of AD," said Dr. Paul Aisen, professor of neurology and principal study investigator. "While the National Institute on Aging continues to explore the potential for NSAIDs to be effective preventive tools for AD, the fact remains that these results are not encouraging for those who are in need of an effective, immediate intervention."


A dietary supplement called Nature's Lining may help quell gastric discomfort by protecting deteriorating stomach lining, researchers say. The remedy works differently from antacids, which may offer relief by neutralizing the burning acid that may accumulate in response to eating spicy foods or feeling stress, scientists say. The discomfort may not stem from too much acid but rather from a stomach lining in disrepair, they say. "Doctors tend to treat most digestive complaints with acid neutralizers because it provides instant relief," said Jennifer Nissen, manager of nutritional research at LaneLabs USA, makers of the supplement. "It can be difficult for people to stop taking an acid blocker because it just treats the symptom and doesn't cure the root problem which is deterioration of the stomach lining." Rather than suppress gastric acid, Nature's Lining supports the cells in the stomach wall that secrete mucus to maintain a protective barrier between gastric acid and the stomach tissue, she said. It is the acid hitting the unprotected stomach area that causes common digestive problems, Nissen said.


A study shows potential benefits of injecting beta blockers into a patient before he undergoes balloon angioplasty or stenting to open a blocked artery. The injection into the heart may protect the muscle from oxygen starvation during the procedure, thus helping prevent small heart attacks that sometimes occur during the operation, researchers report in the journal Circulation. Beta blockers are used to treat hypertension and angina, and to offer protection against a recurrence of a heart attack. Angioplasties involve inserting a balloon-tipped tube into a blocked artery, then inflating and deflating it to open the vessel. This is often followed by stenting, or insertion of a small metal scaffold, to keep the artery open. The study, by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, showed within 30 days of the procedure, 40 percent of patients who received a placebo suffered mild heart attacks, required another procedure to restore blood flow in the heart or needed bypass surgery. In contrast, only 18 percent of those treated with beta blockers experienced such adverse effects, said senior author Dr. Barry Uretsky.


Researchers are seeking women with breast cancer to test a combination of a pair of drugs as a one-two punch to fight metastatic malignancy. The scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, Jonsson Cancer Center, are seeking women with untreated, HER-2/neu positive advanced breast cancer to test the monoclonal antibody Herceptin in combination with the experimental angiogenesis inhibitor Avastin. Studies indicate Avastin may extend the lives of patients with advanced colorectal cancer. The combined therapy attacks only the cancer and blood vessel cells, leaving healthy tissue unharmed, the doctors said. "Other research on advanced cancers using these drugs has shown potential survival benefit for subjects, so we are now conducting research to test the drugs in combination against advanced breast cancer," said Dr. Mark Pegram, director of the Women's Cancer Program Area and principal study investigator. "Now we're comfortable enough to give them in combination without any chemotherapy."

(EDITORS: For more information about ALZHEIMERS, contact Lindsey Spindle at 202-687-7707 or; about GASTRIC, Gail Anderson at 888-633-4279, ext. 216 or; about HEART, Tom Curtis at 409-772-2455 or and about BREAST, Kim Irwin at 310-206-3769 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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