A new research project carried out by a team from Manchester University has suggested that a widely used anti-inflammatory drug has the ability to completely reverse memory loss and brain inflammation in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug, mefenamic acid, is routinely used to alleviate period pain.
Memory loss reversed to levels usually seen in normal mice To carry out their research, the team used transgenic mice that had been engineered to develop the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. At the point where their memory problems had become apparent, mefenamic acid was given to 10 mice, while a further 10 mice received a placebo. The drug was administered via a pump implanted under the skin. Following a month of this treatment, the memory loss in the mice who had received the mefenamic acid was reversed to levels typically seen in normal mice.
Prior to this study, no drug has been able to target this specific inflammation pathway The results of the study have led the team to suggest that this anti-inflammatory drug is able to target the inflammation that makes Alzheimer’s disease worse, specifically by targeting a pathway called NLRP3 inflammasome, which is known to damage brain cells. Prior to this research, no drug has been available that could successfully target this particular pathway. It’s also an exciting result as mefenamic acid is readily available, plus as the toxicity and pharmacokinetics of the drug is well documented, it would be ready for testing with humans far more quickly than if they had to develop a completely new drug. However, it’s a little early to get too excited, as the team are unable to confirm that this result can be replicated in humans.
Team now preparing the application to carry out early phase II trials While more research is needed to identify whether the results would be the same when tested with humans, the drug has been shown to target the inflammatory pathway associated with Alzheimer’s. Therefore, the team hope to conduct human trials in the near future, and are now preparing the application to carry out early phase II trials.
The findings of the study, which was funded by the Medical Research Council and the Alzheimer’s Society, have been reported in a recent edition of the online journal Nature Communications.