Scientists discover new treatment that could reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease
Compound discovered during drug tests to treat neurological pain in chemotherapy patients
04:29 GMT, 3 September 2012
Scientists believe they have discovered a breakthrough treatment that could halt and reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease.
The team based at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio stumbled across a compound known as MDA7 while carrying out tests on a drug to treat neurological pain in chemotherapy patients.
Tests on rats found it had strong anti-inflammatory properties and interacted with receptors in the brain that are linked with the onset of Alzheimer's.
Scientists testing drugs to treat neurological pain in chemotherapy patients have stumbled upon a compound that could reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease
Not only did treatment limit the
development of the disease, it was also found to restore cognitive
functions including memory and learning.
Lead scientist Professor Mohamed
Naguib told the Daily Express: 'It was shown to be effective in
preventing the progression of Alzheimer's.
'It restored function in the model that we tested. A lot more research needs to be done, but there is major potential.
'Development of this compound as a
potential drug for Alzheimer's would take many more years, but this is a
promising finding worthy of further investigation.'
Alzheimer's, which accounts for two-thirds of dementia cases, is believed to affect more than 300,000 people in the UK.
It is estimated that one in 14 people over the age of 65 suffer from the disease which can be inherited.
Although there is no known cure, drug treatments are currently available that can alleviate the symptoms temporarily.
Alzheimer's is caused by parts of the brain wasting away, particularly in the cerebral cortex.
As the grey matter wastes away, clumps of protein, known as ‘plaques’ and ‘tangles’, start to form in the brain. The plaques and tangles start to destroy even more brain cells.
Early symptoms include minor memory problems and saying the right words. Later symptoms include severe confusion and dramatic changes of personality. A sufferer can also experience delusions.
There is no cure though there are some treatment that can slow the disease's progression.
The disease can shorten life-expectancy as sufferers can lose interest in eating and maintaining personal hygiene.