An alzheimers disease treatment drug has been shown to successfully target the most visible sign of the disease in the brain, raising hopes that an effective treatment could be finally within reach. A small trial of the drug was primarily aimed at assessing safety, but the findings suggest it effectively “switched off” the production of toxic amyloid proteins that lead to the sticky plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

If the tablet, produced by pharmaceutical giant Merck, is also shown to slow the pace of mental decline – a crucial question that a major clinical trial should answer when it reports next year – it could be the first alzheimers disease treatment to be licensed in more than a decade.

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