London: Scientists have used pigs` brains to develop a `promising` new drug which they claim improves concentration, memory processing and mood in patients with a certain kind of dementia.
The new drug - called cerebrolysin - shows promise in treating patients with a certain kind of dementia known as vascular dementia, according to the results of a systematic review published in The Cochrane Library.
The drug is licensed in some countries for dementia, stroke and traumatic brain injury - although not yet in UK or US, the `Daily Mail` reported.
"Our review suggests that Cerebrolysin can help improve cognitive and global function in patients with mild to moderate severity vascular dementia," researcher Li He of the Department of Neurology at Sichuan University in Sichuan, China, said.
Cerebrolysin is a drug made from pig brain proteins that has produced some positive results from small vascular dementia trials. Larger trials are now underway.
The drug, however, is not easy to administer, with regular intravenous infusions necessary, said the review.
The review analysed the most up-to-date evidence from six trials involving 597 people.
All were given Cerebrolysin intravenously in different daily concentrations and for different treatment periods, from a few weeks to three years, depending on the trial.
Compared to standard care alone or placebos (dummy treatments), Cerebrolysin significantly improved brain function based on testing recall, arithmetic or other cognitive abilities.
It had a small positive effect on patients` overall clinical state and mood. Long-term treatment may have greater benefits, although most of the trials were short.
"The results are promising but due to low numbers of trials, inconsistencies between trials, risk of bias in the way some of the trials were conducted and lack of long-term follow-up, we cannot yet recommend Cerebrolysin as a routine treatment for vascular dementia," He said.
Since no serious side effects were reported due to taking the drug, He said that it indicated that Cerebrolysin is safe and well tolerated by patients with vascular dementia.
"But the fact that it has to be given in regular intravenous infusions means it could be impractical for use on a large scale," He added.