London: Scientists have discovered the signs of dementia could be "completely reversed" in less than a month, after their study revealed that a protein, which is already used as a treatment for cancer, can treat Alzheimer`s.
In its study on mice, an international team has found that those bred to suffer with Alzheimer`s regained much of their memory within 20 days of starting treatment. Some saw their symptoms "completely reverse" after getting injections of the protein, known as GM-CSF.
The scientists are excited by the findings because the protein is used currently on patients battling cancer - and it has proven to be safe. This means human trials of the protein
in connection with dementia could be carried out quickly, a newspaper reported.
In fact, in their study, led by University of South Florida, the scientists gave the protein, known as Leukine, to two groups of mice -- one bred to develop symptoms similar to
Alzheimer`s disease while the other healthy. Another group of mice, both healthy and specially bred, were given a placebo.
They found that mice who were given the protein saw a 50 percent drop in a substance known to clog brain cells and trigger Alzheimer`s.
Tim Boyd, who led the team, said he was "amazed" by the findings. "We were pretty amazed the treatment completely reversed cognitive impairment in 20 days."
However, experts warned that the results, published in the `Journal of Alzheimer`s Disease`, were only on mice and so the same effects may not occur in humans.
Dr Simon Ridley of Alzheimer`s Research Trust, the UK`s leading dementia research charity, said: "Positive results in mice can be an important first step for any new
treatment -- and it’s encouraging the team is already planning the crucial next stage of clinical trials in people.
"We won’t know whether GM-CSF can help people with Alzheimer`s until these are complete. The worldwide burden of dementia is growing, with more than 35 million people now affected. Research is the only answer to dementia, we must support our scientists in their efforts to beat it."