Common arthritis drug stopped Alzheimer's in its tracks, researchers say

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An arthritis drug stopped the deterioration of cognitive functions and activities of daily living capabilities in Alzheimer's patients in a small trial, researchers from the University of Southampton in England recently announced.

The study involved 41 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's, according to information released by the University of Southampton. Some were given the arthritis drug Etanercept every week for six months, and some received a placebo.

Those who took the medication did not deteriorate in terms of cognition or behavior over the six months, while those in the other group did experience declines, the investigators found.

“Our results are better than we expected,” stated lead researcher Clive Holmes, Ph.D.

While the study was small and lasted only a short time, “our projections suggest the benefits would continue,” Holmes added. He called for further trials.

Etanercept blocks a blood protein released as part of an inflammatory response. High levels of the protein have been associated with worsening Alzheimer's, the researchers noted.

Holmes presented the findings at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held last week in Copenhagen.