Although there is no accepted treatment for Alzheimer’s yet, a new study shows that we may find a little hope in a common period pain medication drug. In fact, it may completely reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
The research, led by Dr. David Brough at the University of Manchester, found that the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), mefenamic acid, which is often used to treat menstrual pain, was able to completely reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s in mice. But could the benefits extend to humans?
“Our research shows for the first time that mefenamic acid, a simple Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug can target an important inflammatory pathway called the NLRP3 inflammasome, which damages brain cells. Until now, no drug has been available to target this pathway, so we are very excited by this result,” Dr. Brough explained.
For the study, 20 mice were genetically altered so that they displayed symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Ten of the mice were given the NSAID, while the other 10 were given a placebo. The medication was injected under their skin through a miniature pump.
The mice that were injected with the mefenamic acid were found to have a total reversal of symptoms within one month, while those who received the placebo medication remained in the same state as before.
“There is experimental evidence now to strongly suggest that inflammation in the brain makes Alzheimer’s disease worse,” said Dr. Brough.
And while this research is certainly promising, it won’t be known if it can actually help treat humans of their Alzheimer’s until human trials can take place. However, if the trial on humans proves to be effective, it will likely be given to humans rather quickly.
And while the results are looking good, Dr. Brough warns others not to try their own trial at home.
“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,” he says.
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.