Researchers have revealed how memory loss in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease can be reversed by reducing brain inflammation using a drug called mefenamic acid.
Mefenamic acid is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat mild to moderate pain, and it is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of menstrual pain. In fact, the drug is found in a common painkiller – Ponstan Forte. Ponstan Forte is currently used to help relieve symptoms of inflammation, such as redness and swelling. pain and discomfort caused by arthritis, muscular or rheumatic disorders.
The study published the journal Nature Communications revealed that the drug targets inflammation which known to damage brain cells.
“There is experimental evidence now to strongly suggest that inflammation in the brain makes Alzheimer’s disease worse,” said study leader Dr David Brough, of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.
Dr Brough and his team say their results open the door to trials in humans with the disease, reports Medical News Today.
However, developing any new drug from the ground up takes time – a decade for a new medication to reach the market, with clinical trials alone taking an average of 6-7 years.
As such, researchers are increasingly focusing on identifying other possible uses for existing medications, which can dramatically shorten the approval process.
For their study, the researchers used 20 mice that were genetically modified to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Once the mice had developed memory problems, half of them were treated with mefenamic acid for 1 month, while the remaining half received a placebo.
Compared with the mice that received the placebo, those that were treated with the drug showed a complete reversal in memory loss, with their memory reverting to levels seen in mice free of Alzheimer’s.
The researchers say that much more work is still needed to determine whether mefenamic acid may be an effective treatment for humans with Alzheimer’s disease, but they are encouraged by their findings.
Dr. Doug Brown, director of research and development at the U.K.’s Alzheimer’s Society, hails the team’s findings as “promising,” but stresses that mefenamic acid should not be used for Alzheimer’s yet.