New sleeping pill may treat Alzheimer's

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A new insomnia drug may be used for Alzheimer's and depression, according to its Japanese maker.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., the Osaka-based drug manufacturer, could extend the use of Ramelteon -- a new sleeping pill to be released in the U.S. market in early fall -- to treat Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses. The new drug, which is in clinical trials in Japan and Europe, has a new mechanism that specifically targets the MT1 and MT2 receptors in the brain, which are critical in regulating the body's sleep-wake cycle.

The company filed for FDA approval for the drug last year and expects to gain approval with "non-scheduled drug" status, which means that no restrictions will be placed on how physicians prescribe the drug. It may start clinical development of the drug to treat Alzheimer's disease and depression after the pill's launch, the company announced.

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