For many years now scientists and drug companies have been looking for drugs that don’t just ameliorate the symptoms of the disease as our current drugs do but ones that can stop the death of neurons, in the presence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.
There have been times when this has been claimed but there has never been any drug that has got through human trials successfully. This week though, this claim has been made for two drugs: trazodone hydrochloride (used to treat depression and anxiety) and dibenzoylmethane (a drug that could be useful for prostate and bowel cancer). Both drugs restored memory, reduced signs of neurodegeneration and were safe for mice in the doses being trialled.
Now the beauty of utilising these drugs is that they have already been tested on humans so if they are as effective, as animal testing seems to suggest, then the process of human testing can be hugely reduced, meaning that clinical trials for both drugs in treating neurodegenerative diseases could start straight away.
Could we be approaching an era where there is a treatment that has a real impact on neurodegenerative illness for the first time? Why not go and make up your own mind about this. On BBC Health there is an item which explains what it is believed the drugs do and some further thoughts on what might happen next. Click here to view
A more in-depth critical look at the claims is contained in Behind the Headlines
Both links take you to the paper which has caused this stir. Let’s hope the outcomes of any trial are positive because its now 20 years since the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor Donepezil (Aricept) was launched.