Researchers from the the University of Manchester found that an experimental model of Alzheimer’s disease can be treated with mefenamic acid, a common Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) used to treat pain. In their study published in the journal Nature Communications, the research team claims that the drug completely reversed memory loss and inflammation of the brain in mice.
Apparently, mefenamic acid targets the NLRP3 inflammasome, an inflammatory pathway that damages brain cells, which worsens the degenerative disorder. According to lead researcher David Brough from the University of Manchester, this is the first time a drug was found to target this pathway.
For one month, the researchers administered mefenamic to one group of 10 mice that had memory problems. Another group was treated with placebo. They found that memory loss was reversed on mice that received the mefenamic acid through the mini-pump implanted under their skin.
Although the team performed their experiment on mice, they believe that this could lead the way to clinical trials involving humans. They hope that this could improve the memory, decision-making ability, as well as improve the life of an Alzheimer’s patient.
However, further research is needed. They also expect that this approach may lead to some negative side effects.
“Testing drugs already in use for other conditions is a priority for Alzheimer’s Society – it could allow us to shortcut the 15 years or so needed to develop a new dementia drug from scratch,” points out Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society. “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. However, these drugs are not without side effects and should not be taken for Alzheimer’s disease at this stage – studies in people are needed first.”