A much used anti-inflammatory drug can treat Alzheimer's disease. It completely reversed brain inflammation and memory loss in mice, say experts. A common Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID), mefenamic acid, which is used to reduce period pain, was found to be beneficial for Alzheimer's patients.
Dr. David Brough from The University of Manchester explained that for the first time a drug is being used to treat the inflammatory pathway.
"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."
He added: "Until now, no drug has been available to target this pathway, so we are very excited by this result.
The study was conducted mainly by PhD student Mike Daniels, and postdoc Dr. Jack Rivers-Auty under the supervision of Brough and Dr. Catherine Lawrence. However, much more study has to be conducted before the full impact on humans can be understood. This is the first study that will be conducted in the near future.
Scientists conducted the study on transgenic mice that showed symptoms of Alzheimer's. A group of 10 mice was given mefenamic acid, while the second group was given a placebo. The drug was given for a month through a mini-pump installed under the skin. Experts found that the drug could reverse memory loss and bring it back to levels without the disease.
"Testing drugs already in use for other conditions is a priority for Alzheimer's Society - it could allow us to shortcut the fifteen years or so needed to develop a new dementia drug from scratch. These promising lab results identify a class of existing drugs that have potential to treat Alzheimer's disease by blocking a particular part of the immune response," Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer's Society, Dr. Doug Brown, said.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications and was funded by the Medical Research Council and the Alzheimer's Society.