ALZHEIMER’S sufferers could regain their memory and other vital brain functions under a new treatment, experts revealed yesterday.
The breakthrough promises to provide a new lease of life for hundreds of thousands of Britons who suffer from the debilitating disease by controlling its worst effects.
And experts claim the discovery – a compound in a drug – has such “major potential” that it could one day cure the heart-breaking condition.
Lead scientist Professor Mohamed Naguib said: “It was shown to be effective in preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s.
“It restored functions in the model that we tested. A lot more research needs to be done, but there is major potential.
Scientists at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio came across the powerful compound while undertaking tests on a drug to control neurological pain for chemotherapy patients.
They discovered that the chemical mixture had anti-inflammatory properties which they believed could be effective in treating a range of other conditions, most notably Alzheimer’s disease. Tests proved to be very positive – and hopes are now high that further research could lead to a mass-market drug. In results published online in the Neurobiology Of Aging, the compound MDA7 was found to interact with receptors in the brain that play a role in the neuro-degenerative processes in Alzheimer’s.
As a result, the development of the disease could be limited. Treatment with the compound restored cognition, memory and synaptic plasticity – a vital neurological building block on which learning and memory are based.
“Cleveland Clinic dedicated two years of research into the examination of this compound and our findings show it could represent a novel therapeutic target in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Prof Naguib, head of Anaesthesiology at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.
“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 is an irreversible, fatal brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.
There is currently no cure for the condition, which accounts for two-thirds of dementia cases.
However, drug treatments are available that can temporarily alleviate some symptoms.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, delaying the onset of dementia by five years would halve the number of deaths, saving 30,000 lives a year.
There are 800,000 people with dementia in the UK and the total is set to rise to over one million by 2021. This is expected to soar to 1.7 million by 2050.