Trazodone: Licensed Antidepressant Can Cure Almost All Neurodegenerative Disorders, Scientists Suggest

First Posted: Apr 21, 2017 05:40 AM EDT

A team of researchers from the U.K. Medical Research Council has successfully used Trazodone to block the death of brain cells in mice models with prion disease and frontotemporal dementia. The study was led by Giovanna Mallucci, professor at the University of Cambridge.

The study findings that were published in the journal Brain indicated that trazodone functions by targeting the "unfolded protein response" in the brain cells. This is a natural defense strategy of the brain cells, in which the brain cells shut down intracellular protein production and undergo apoptosis as soon as they detect a significant quantity of intracellular misfolded proteins. The said response is simultaneous with most neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease, BBC News reported.

According to Professor Mallucci, this natural defense strategy backfires in people who are susceptible to or are already suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, prion disease and Alzheimer's disease. Blocking the unfolded protein response in such people can help in halting the progression of the disease by preventing the death of increasing number of brain cells. The research findings of the study conducted by Professor Mallucci and her team proved that trazodone can block the said protein response without causing any severe side effects, according to Alzheimer's Society in the U.K.

The present study was conducted in continuation to a similar study made in 2013. The results obtained then also showed the neuroprotective role of a few licensed drugs. However, the chronic adverse effects of those drugs on other organs diminished their prospects of being used as a mainstream drug for treating neurodegenerative diseases. The present study is speculated as a breakthrough, especially because trazodone is already in clinical use for treating depression and sleep disorders, Medical News Today reported.

Since it is already licensed, it is expected that there will not be many hindrances in encouraging its application on a much larger scale. However, the same can be done only after obtaining positive results in clinical trials.

Though it is expected that trazodone will exert the same neuroprotective role on human brain cells as it did in experimental mice models, its possible effects in reversing the effects of already inflicted damage on the brain cells is not known. On the positive side, experts are of the opinion that halting the progression of the disease alone will help in making it manageable.

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