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Novel Alzheimer's treatment shows promise

A treatment used for arthritis has shown to almost immediately improve cognitive ability in people with Alzheimer's disease.

The drug Etanercept reduces the effect of tumour necrosis factors and when given to people with Alzheimer's disease, researchers witnessed almost immediate improvements in thinking skills.

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said: “This is promising and innovative research but in the early stages and further work is needed before we can conclude Etanercept could work as a treatment for Alzheimer's.”

She added that studies must investigate whether the drug is “safe” and if it works in a larger number of patients.

“Scientists also need to check the benefits weren't just due to the placebo effect and establish whether any benefit is just temporary or whether the disease itself is slowed,” she says.

Existing Alzheimer's drugs only offer temporary relief to some symptoms, so drugs that could slow the disease down are hugely anticipated.

Wood adds: “With the number of people with Alzheimer's forecast to double within a generation, we urgently need to find ways to tackle this awful disease, but research is hugely under-funded.”

Alzheimer's Research Trust