New drug could stop Alzheimer's early in its tracks
London, February 4 : A drug that could stop Alzheimer's disease before it seriously affects a person's mental abilities is being developed by researchers in Britain.
Early trials conducted on mice showed that the compound reduced by a third the number of 'plaques' on the brain, which are associated with the disease.
The drug also doubled the number of new nerve cells in a particular region associated with memory, the researchers found.
David Allsop, professor of neuroscience at Lancaster University, said he and colleagues were "highly encouraged" by the results, the Telegraph reported.
"Many people who are mildly forgetful may go on to develop the disease because these senile plaques start forming years before any symptoms manifest themselves. The ultimate aim is to give the drug at that stage to stop any more damage to the brain, before it's too late," he explained.
Researchers know that the 'amyloid plaques', as they are known, are associated with Alzheimer's. However, there is debate about whether removing them significantly improves symptoms, or if by the time they are formed the damage is already done.
Other drugs are being developed which attack the changes thought to lead to Alzheimer's, at an early stage.
These are promising early-stage results, and several years more work will be required to assess the potential of this approach, Dr Eric Karran, director of research asserted.
The results of the study have been published in the journal PLoS ONE.