Alzheimer's Disease
Holocaust survivor Betty Stein, 92, plays ping pong at a program for people with Alzheimer's and dementia at the Arthur Gilbert table tennis center in Los Angeles, California June 15, 2011. Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

New research has revealed that a commonly-used anti-inflammatory drug may be used to treat the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers used an experimental model of Alzheimer's and found out that the drug successfully treated the condition. The anti-inflammatory drug completely reversed brain inflammation and memory loss in mice.

A common Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug (NSAID), mefenamic acid, is used for period pain. The team led by Dr. David Brough from The University of Manchester said that this is the first time a drug has been shown to target the inflammatory pathway, which is extremely important in the disease model.

However, he also mentioned that much more research is needed to understand the impact on humans and long-term implications of its use. Most of the experiments involved in the study were carried out by PhD student Mike Daniels, and postdoc Dr. Jack Rivers-Auty under the supervision of Brough and Dr. Catherine Lawrence.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications and was funded by the Medical Research Council and the Alzheimer's Society. It has paved the way for human trials that the team hopes to conduct in near future.

The study involved transgenic mice that had developed symptoms of Alzheimer’s. One group of 10 mice was treated with mefenamic acid and the other group was treated with a placebo. The drug was administered via a mini-pump implanted under the skin for one month. The researchers found that the drug was able to reverse memory loss 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 in a statement.