London- British scientists have found two drugs that block the pathway which leads to brain cell death, and prevent neurodegeneration.
The study finds that a licensed antidepressant called trazodone and a compound in liquorice called dibenzoylmethane (DBM) are able to reduce brain cell death in mice with prion disease and with frontotemporal dementia.
Since 2013, the research group has tested more than 1,000 ready-made drugs on nematode worms, human cells in a dish and mice.
Two were shown to prevent both a form of dementia and prion disease by stopping brain cells dying.
Professor Giovanna Mallucci, who led the Leicester-based research team and is now anchored at the University of Cambridge, said: “We know that trazodone is safe to use in humans, so a clinical trial is now possible to test whether the protective effects of the drug we see on brain cells in mice with neurodegeneration also applies to people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
“We could know in 2-3 years whether this approach can slow down disease progression, which would be a very exciting first step in treating these disorders. Interestingly, trazodone has been used to treat the symptoms of patients in later stages of dementia, so we know it is safe for this group. We now need to find out whether giving the drug to patients at an early stage could help arrest or slow down the disease through its effects on this pathway.”