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Brain-ageing discovery may be Alzheimer’s key

A pill that reverses age-related mental decline and Alzheimer's may be in prospect as a result of research on new nerve drugs.

The studies raise the possibility of a cure for memory loss and fading mental faculties in an ageing population, say experts.

However a lot more work is needed to develop the early animal research.

Scientists in the US screened thousands of compounds for their brain-protective properties.

They identified one that had dramatic effects on ageing rats and genetically engineered mice.

The molecule spurred on the growth of new neurons in a part of the brain vital to memory, according to the research reported in the journal Cell.

It significantly improved the ability of ageing rats to swim through a water maze — a standard test of memory-dependent learning — and assisted the birth of brain cells in mice.

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Further research showed a derivative of the compound had an even bigger impact on the brain.

The scientists are still trying to find out how the drugs work. They appear to prevent a process called apoptosis, which causes cells to self-destruct.

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