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.
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.
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."