English: PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Scientists have successfully reversed Alzheimer's in a middle-aged lab mouse - using the same method as a major clinical trial in humans which was called off yesterday.
The team at Cleveland Clinic admitted they were 'shocked' when their attempts to reduce amyloid plaque in mice completely eradicated the dangerous build-ups that slowly cripple the brain.
They claim their tests on a 20-month-old mouse - equivalent to a 50-year-old human - show it could be possible to halt the disease if it is caught decades earlier than usual.
Lead author Riqiang Yan envisions a future when these enzymes, known as BACE1 inhibitors, could be available as a vitamin that all humans take preventatively to stave off neurodegenerative disease.
However, just hours before Yan's paper was published today, Merck announced it had pulled the plug on its phase 3 clinical trial in late-stage Alzheimer's patients using this same inhibitor after an interim review found more risks than benefits.
Already aware of the Merck failure, Yan told Daily Mail Online last night that he still believes BACE1 is the answer to preventing and treating Alzheimer's.