Published on 04/04/2012
Commonly prescribed statins could be used in the fight against Alzheimer’s if prescribed at an early stage, say Canadian researchers.
Simvastatin, usually prescribed to people with high cholesterol, was found to improve the blood flow in the brains of laboratory mice with Alzheimer’s by scientists at McGill University in Montreal.
Mice aged around six months and a year old with the condition were tested after receiving a high dose of simvastatin for three to six months.
The drug restored brain blood vessel function in both groups. However, only the younger animals in early stages of the disease showed improvements in learning and memory tests.
Now, the researchers, writing in the Journal of Neuroscience, say that more research is needed to see if humans could benefit in the same way. Study leader Dr Edith Hamel said:
"This study shows that simvastatin can protect against some of the damaging effects of Alzheimer's disease on nerve cells involved in memory, if administered early in the disease process."
Dr Simon Ridley, from the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "While these new findings are valuable, the benefits are shown in mice and we don't know how they will bear out in humans. There is a real need to push on with research that will boost early detection and help people with dementia get more benefit from treatments."
Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. Dementia is the medical term used to describe a number of conditions that cause a change in the way your brain works. These changes can cause memory problems and can alter your behaviour and emotions.
Since Alzheimer's disease is a chronic condition, treatment may not be covered by private medical insurance. For more information call one of our healthcare advisors or compare health insurance quotes online now.
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