is a drug used for
treatment of symptoms associated with Alzheimer's
disease. It was approved by the US Food
and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993 and is currently
marketed under the brand name of Cognex. Tacrine was the first
drug approved to treat Alzheimer's in the US; however, it
can cause serious side
effects including liver problems, and so its use has declined.
Tacrine works to increase the level of acetylcholine
in the brain. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter
which is important for learning and memory;
one feature of AD is a reduction in brain levels of acetylcholine.
Like the other currently-available AD drugs, donepezil
(trade name Aricept), rivastigmine
(trade name Exelon) and galantamine
(trade name Reminyl), tacrine is a cholinesterase
inhibitor, meaning that it acts to inhibit the enzymes
which break down unused acetylcholine; the result is that
existing acetylcholine survives longer and is more effective.
by Catherine E. Myers. Copyright © 2006 Memory Loss and the Brain