Ordinary Drugs Could Hold the Key to Conquering Alzheimer’s


Certain categories of common medications possess the potential to stave off, or slow down, the progress of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, according to a new study.

Researchers from King's College London identified four different classes of drugs that could eventually pull double-duty as treatments for dementia-related memory loss:

  • Diabetes medications and antibiotics (specifically those used to treat acne) could cut down on the amount of mind-clogging plaque build-up in a person's brain.
  • Research has shown that some kinds of blood pressure prescriptions—called, "calcium-channel blockers,"—may have dementia risk reduction properties.
  • Certain psoriasis treatments can possibly alter the way harmful proteins form in the brain.

"Defeating dementia is one of the biggest challenges facing both medicine and society as a whole," study author, Clive Ballard, says in a press release. He laments that people affected by Alzheimer's and other dementias currently face an, "unimaginable wait," for an effective treatment.

Using drugs that are already on the market to help develop beneficial Alzheimer's therapies could save time—meaning that those suffering from the disease would see relief much sooner than anticipated.

Concocting a new cure out of thin air—as several pharmaceutical companies are currently endeavoring to do—can take over a decade.

Even after a promising drug has been developed, it must survive a four-phase clinical trial gauntlet before it can be considered for approval.

Ballard, the Director of Research for the Alzheimer's Society, believes his team's findings could speed up this process, saying that an effective therapy for Alzheimer's could be less than a decade away.

After a disappointing summer that saw pharmaceutical titans Pfizer and Eli Lilly encounter major setbacks when their prospective Alzheimer's drugs failed in clinical trials, this news injects new hope into the quest to come up with a successful way to combat Alzheimer's disease.

Ballard and his colleagues insist that more research needs to be done to flesh out the potential of the drugs identified by their investigation, but they remain optimistic about the future possibilities of these medications.

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