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For M.S., A Possible Memory Jolt
A drug used to treat symptoms of AlzheimerÝs disease may also help people suffering from memory problems because of multiple sclerosis, researchers reported yesterday. Writing in the journal Neurology, they said that a small group of MS patients had benefited from the drug, donepezil, when they were given it over a 24-week period. But they said more extensive research was needed. The study was led by Dr. Lauren Krupp of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Mental impairment ˇ including problems with recalling recently learned things, processing information quickly and paying attention ˇ affects 40 percent to 65 percent of multiple sclerosis patients, according to an accompanying editorial in the journal. But no drug has been available to help. The findings, the editorial said, are a "major advance" in the search. For the study, 69 M.S. patients with mild mental impairment were split into two groups, one given donepezil and the other a placebo. Each group was given memory and similar tests before and after the drug trial began. After it was over, the patients who had been given the drug scored 14 percent higher on the memory test than they had the first time. The possibility that memory problems associated with multiple sclerosis can be alleviated with a drug is ''of major importance to patients and their families,'' the authors wrote.