A drug used to fight cancer has shown an ability to reverse Alzheimer's-like memory loss.
The research showed effectiveness in reversing memory loss found in fruit flies and mice that have have brain cells containing the protein found in human Alzheimer's plaques.
The drugs used in the study were intended to target EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor), which is over-expressed in certain cancers.
Struggling to remember recent events, although they can easily recall things that happened in the past
Repeating themselves or losing the thread of what they are saying
Forgetting the names of friends or everyday objects
Feeling confused even when in a familiar environment
Having problems thinking and reasoning
Feeling anxious, depressed or angry about their memory loss
Finding that other people start to comment on their memory loss
Having difficulty recalling things they have heard, seen or read
Finding it hard to follow conversations or programmes on TV
The findings, shown in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show enhanced activation of EGFRs in brain cells exacerbates Alzheimer's-type memory loss, although the details are not fully understood at present.
The animals were treated with the anti-cancer EGFR inhibitors, which has been shown to prevent memory loss.
Plan a conversation in a familiar, non-threatening environment
Explain why talking is important - you’re worried because you care
Use examples to make things clearer
Have an open conversation - ask how they’re feeling about their memory?
Make a positive plan of action together
In a statement, the leader of the study Professor Yi Zhong said that while his team were surprised by their results, the findings represent a very early stage of research.
Although Zhong and colleagues note the uncertainty of Alzheimer's pathology, due to the positive results they have obtained so far, they suggest additional testing with EGFR inhibitors and "behaviorally screened chemicals in treatments of Alzheimer's patients."