Existing drugs 'could be repurposed to combat neurodegeneration'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

UK scientists have been able to repurpose a pair of drugs as a means of potentially preventing the development of neurodegenerative disease.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) study has indicated that trazodone hydrochloride and dibenzoylmethane is able to prevent the emergence of brain cell damage and restore memory function in mice, while also reducing signs of brain shrinkage.

“A new study has shown how two existing therapies could be repurposed as a means of arresting the process of neurodegeneration.“

A previous study showed that an accumulation of misfolded proteins in mice with prion disease resulted in the production of new proteins in brain cells being disrupted. Switching protein production back on with an experimental drug halted neurodegeneration, but the drug also had toxic effects on the pancreas and never moved into human testing.

For this study, 1,040 compounds were tested to see if they could offer similar benefits safely. Trazodone hydrochloride is a licensed antidepressant, while dibenzoylmethane is being trialled as an anticancer drug, with both having been proven to be safe in humans.

Dr Rob Buckle, chief science officer at the Medical Research Council, said: "This study builds on previous work by this team and is a great example of how really innovative discovery science can quite quickly translate into the possibility of real drugs to treat disease."

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