An experimental drug shown to help treat degenerative diseases such as Alzeimer's and Parkinson's by preventing the death of brain neurons will be seen as a 'turning point' in medical history, experts claim.
The study, by the Medical Research Council's toxicology unit at the University of Leicester, saw the drug injected into the stomachs of mice to "flip" a cellular switch from 'off' to 'on', preventing the neurons from dying.
The findings have been welcomed by other experts in the field.
This is the first convincing report that a small drug, of the type most conveniently turned into medicines, stops the progressive death of neurons in the brain as found, for instance, in Alzheimer's disease.
This finding, I suspect, will be judged by history as a turning point in the search for medicines to control and prevent Alzheimer's.
A landmark study by experts at the University of Leicester has raised the prospect of a pill that can treat brain diseases such as Alzheimer's by halting the death of neurons.
The research, performed on sick mice, is at a very early stage and currently the compound has "harmful" side effects, but experts say it provides the "real possibility" of developing a medicine in future.
It could be a decade or more before any such medicine suitable for human patients is developed.