A commonly prescribed drug, which is used in the treatment of asthma and various allergies, has been found to stop the deterioration of brain cells in rats, meaning that it could be used in the fight against dementia in humans.
A study conducted by an Austrian team of research scientists has highlighted that montelukast, sold as ‘Singulair’, has the ability to reverse the ageing process.
Following the findings, there have been calls for a larger clinical trial to be held among Parkinson’s disease sufferers, to see if the results found in rats are comparable to humans.
In the test study, older rats (with an equivalent human age of between 65 and 75) were given an oral dose of the drug, scaled down.
They responded to treatment just as well as the younger rats, who had an equivalent human age of 17.
All subjects were given the drug over a period of six weeks, and tested to see how their reactions had been affected.
Dr Aigner and his team from the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg discovered that montelukast blocked the receptors that were connected to the development of diseases such as dementia.
Among the older subjects that were given the drug, 80 per cent of them were found to have less inflammation in their brains, while new neuron growth was also heightened.
Dr Aigner said: “structurally, the brain had rejuvenated… I think the drug reverses the damage associated with ageing.”
Dementia is more common among people aged 80 or over, and it affects one in six people in that age category.
If trials among humans prove to be successful, the drug could provide a cure – or help in the development of one – for the 850,000 people who currently live with dementia in the UK.