Discovery of new compound could one day cure Alzheimer's disease, say researchers.
They hope the compound could help Alzheimer's sufferers regain their memory and other vital brain functions under a new treatment.
"It was shown to be effective in preventing the progression of Alzheimer's. It restored functions in the model that we tested. A lot more research needs to be done, but there is major potential," the Daily Express quoted lead scientist Professor Mohamed Naguib as saying.
The Cleveland Clinic scientists came across the powerful compound while undertaking tests on a drug to control neurological pain for chemotherapy patients.
They discovered that the chemical mixture had anti-inflammatory properties, which they believed could be effective in treating a range of other conditions, most notably Alzheimer's disease.
Tests proved to be very positive - and hopes are now high that further research could lead to a mass-market drug.
In results published online in the Neurobiology Of Aging, the compound MDA7 was found to interact with receptors in the brain that play a role in the neuro-degenerative processes in Alzheimer's.
As a result, the development of the disease could be limited. Treatment with the compound restored cognition, memory and synaptic plasticity - a vital neurological building block on which learning and memory are based.
"Cleveland Clinic dedicated two years of research into the examination of this compound and our findings show it could represent a novel therapeutic target in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease," said Prof Naguib, head of Anaesthesiology at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.
"Development of this compound as a potential drug for Alzheimer's would take many more years, but this is a promising finding worthy of further investigation," he added.
Alzheimer's is an irreversible, fatal brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills.
There is currently no cure for the condition, which accounts for two-thirds of dementia cases.