Ibuprofen, the popular pain killer, significantly reduced inflammation and amyloid plaques in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study. The findings may have a strong impact on the future treatment of the disease and could eventually help prevent it.
Current therapies may hinder the progression of brain degeneration, but so far there is no singular proven method for prevention or treatment. However, the findings published in the Journal of Neuroscience add to other recently-announced discoveries about other potential new treatments for Alzheimer’s, such as the development of a vaccine and the use of herbal supplements.
Alzheimer’s disease causes the formation of abnormal structures in the brain called plaques and tangles. As they accumulate in affected individuals, nerve cell connections are reduced. Areas of the brain that influence short-term memory tend to be affected first. Later, the disease works its way into sections of the brain that control other intellectual and physical functions.
Ibuprofen and other similar drugs may control the inflammatory response to the plaques as well as the number of plaques. According to Dr. M. Beal of Cornell Medical College, the study “clearly demonstrates that ibuprofen can reduce the deposition of amyloid on the mouse model. This provides further evidence that this approach may be useful in preventing AD in patients.”
The study tracked Alzheimer infected mice over six months. The mice were continuously fed food containing ibuprofen. The team of scientists discovered that cell inflammation was significantly reduced as was the number and size of plaques.
In humans, plaques take about 20 years to develop before memory decline and other cognitive symptoms appear. By reducing the severity of plaque formation, scientists speculate that the disease could be delayed by about 10 years. Dr. Gregory Cole, lead author of the study, noted that a 10-year delay in the onset of the disease would prevent 75 per cent of all cases.
The research team also urges caution for patients who may choose to use anti-inflammatory drugs and encourages people to consult with their doctor about the possible long-term side-effects of use.