Scientists may have found a way to treat hitherto incurable Alzheimer's disease with a drug commonly used to lessen menstrual camps. The drug also completely reversed memory loss and brain damage in mice.

Besides research on developing new drugs to combat dementia and reverse it, scientists are experimenting with existing drugs to determine if one of them can cure Alzheimer's. University of Manchester researchers have successfully shown that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug Mefenamic Acid, commonly used to treat period pain cured Alzheimer's affected mice.

"Our research shows for the first time that mefenamic acid, a simple Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug can target an important inflammatory pathway called the NLRP3 inflammasome, which damages brain cells," said the university's Dr. David Brough who led the research team, said.

Discovery of a potential Alzheimer's drug in a commonly used medication may immensely benefit Alzheimer's patients as it could help leapfrog around 15 years of research that normal drug development takes. While, only human trials can show if the drug treats Alzheimer's in humans, its existing use indicates it is safe for consumption and its pharmacology understood.

"Because this drug is already available and the toxicity and pharmacokinetics of the drug is known, the time for it to reach patients should, in theory, be shorter than if we were developing completely new drugs," said Dr. Brough while warning that it should not be taken before human trials show its efficacy in treatment Alzheimer's.  

For the study, the team tested the drug on 10 genetically engineering mice and compared the drug's impact with 10 control mice, also genetically engineered to show symptoms of Alzheimer's. The mice treated with mefenamic acid for a month showed no signs of brain damage and complete reversal of memory loss a month after treatment. The control mice were placebo-treated.

Importantly, the study also highlighted a pathway that was not targeted earlier to treat dementia. The study was published in the Nature Communications