Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder currently affecting approximately 5 million individuals in the United States. This disorder is characterized by the accumulation of plaques and tangles in the brain. The neuropathology typically begins in the entorhinal cortex of the hippocampus. Since this area is critical for memory, early memory impairment is the leading clinical symptom. As the disease spreads to other portions of the brain, other cognitive functions become disturbed.
Current treatments for AD include the use of cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, an N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist. While these drugs are capable of producing drug placebo differences in treated populations, neither class of agents has been demonstrated to either slow the rate of decline or prevent the progression of the disease.