American researchers revealed that they have developed a new drug for Alzheimer's disease which can halt the degenerative symptoms of the disease for three years.
Researchers found that patients who had injections every two weeks of the drug immunoglobulin, made from antibodies in human blood, showed no decline in cognition, memory, daily functioning or mood.
AdvertisementImmunoglobulin is normally given to patients who suffer from an immune deficiency, but it has also been found to protect the brains of those with early stage Alzheimer's.
Each dose is extracted from the plasma of 1,000 blood donors.
"This is probably the most exciting drug we know about that is currently in the late stages of research," the Independent quoted Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, as saying.
"We now know it is safe but the real test will be whether these initial promising results can subsequently be replicated in larger groups," he said.
Just 24 patients were tested with the drug in the study, who were given varying doses of the drug over different periods. A larger study is now underway.
"If the phase 3 trials are successful, and it can be made cost effective, this drug could be on the shelves within 10 years," Ballard said.
"One in three people over 65 will develop dementia. While finding a cure is the Holy Grail of dementia research, it is also vitally important that we continue to fund studies like this if we are to develop more treatments to help people to live well with the condition," he added.
However, the difficulty of producing immunoglobulin means it is not cheap, costing thousands of pounds per patient.
The findings of the study were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Vancouver, Canada.