Scientists may have discovered a powerful new anti-aging drug in the commonly used asthma drug montelukast (Singulair).
One of the causes of degenerative brain disorders is inflammation of the brain. Asthma drugs like montelukast fight inflammation by blocking receptors which trigger it. So scientists from the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, Austria hypothesized that such drugs may improve cognition as well.
They tested their hypothesis on 20 month old lab rats, which is roughly the equivalent of 65 to 75 in human years.The rats were fed the drug daily for six weeks, then given a series of cognitive and learning tests. The old rats who were given the drug performed just as well as their younger counterparts. The old rats who weren’t given the drug performed far worse.
“We restored learning and memory 100% to a level comparable with youth,” said scientist Ludwig Aigner. The scientists also tested the effects of giving montelukast to young rats. Not surprisingly, their cognitive function did not change as the brain inflammation the drug counteracts is a result of age.
The old rats who were given montelukast had 80% less brain inflammation than those who weren’t. They also showed greater neuron growth, and a stronger blood brain barrier which is important for keeping the brain from getting infections.
Because montelukast is an already approved and widely used drug, the scientists believe they’ll be able to start human trials soon. They first plan to test it on patients living with Parkinson’s disease.