A wonder pill to halt and even reverse Alzheimer's disease could be available on prescription to hundreds of thousands of patients within four years, say researchers.
It has been hailed as the "biggest breakthrough against the disease for 100 years" and previous research had found that it could slow the progression of Alzheimer's by 90 per cent over two years.
AdvertisementThe researchers believe the drug, which is going to through what is known as a Phase 3 trial, could also be given to those at risk of the disease to prevent it from striking.
"This is a major milestone for us to have got to. If we can pull off a Phase 3 trial then we will significantly improve the quality of life of people with Alzheimer's disease," the Daily Express quoted Claude Wischik, professor of Old Age Psychiatry at the University of Aberdeen, as saying.
"We hope to at least replicate [the Phase 2] effect of halting disease progression. It means if we can attack the disease early enough we can reverse the disease, we can bring [patients] back from the precipice.
"I think we can significantly impact on the rate of decline. It might be that we can draw out the process for much longer so that they die for other reasons," Wischik stated.
The researcher added that the development was one of the most significant in the treatment of the disease since it was discovered in 1907 by Alois Alzheimer.
The drug is the first to target the toxic "tangles" of a protein known as Tau in the brain that destroys nerve cells and causes the memory to deteriorate.
The drug helps prevent the formation of new tangles and loosen those already created. The Phase 2 trial in 2008 showed the drug, then called Rember, worked well at low and moderate doses.
But now, a second-generation version, called LMTX, will be tested at higher doses. It is hoped it will reverse the early stages of the disease.
"These Phase 3 studies are bringing us closer to finding an effective treatment that can actually arrest the progression of the disease," Prof Wischik added.
The drug was introduced at the 5th Clinical Trials Conference on Alzheimer's disease in Monte Carlo, Monaco.