Medivation’s investigational Alzheimer’s disease drug Dimebon could benefit sufferers of Huntington's disease, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Archives of Neurology journal, evaluated the safety and tolerability of Dimebon (latrepirdine) in Huntington’s and explored its effects on cognition, behaviour and motor symptoms. Some 91 participants with mild to moderate Huntington’s enrolled at 16 US and one UK centre from July 2007 to July 2008 and were given Dimebon 20mg three times daily or placebo for a 90-day treatment period.

The researchers said that short-term administration of latrepirdine is well tolerated in patients with Huntington’s and may have a beneficial effect on cognition. They note that further investigation of is warranted in this population and a new follow-up trial with 350 patients is being conducted to see whether the initial findings can be confirmed.

Lead investigator Karl Kieburtz, professor of neurology at the University of Rochester in New York, said the results are encouraging because there are currently no treatments for the psychological effects of Huntington's. Prestwick Pharmaceuticals’ Xenazine (tetrabenazine) was the first therapy to be approved in August 2008 for the treatment of chorea, the most common symptom of Huntington's. Denmark’s Lundbeck now owns the rights to the latter.

Dimebon, which was first sold in Russia as an antihistamine, is partnered with Pfizer.