A common drug used to treat diabetes may also reverse symptoms of the later-stages of Alzheimer's disease.
It has now entered the process of entering a major clinical trial after researchers from UK institution Lancaster University conducted a study, published in the journal Neuropharmacology, revealing liraglutide may reverse memory loss in Alzheimer's.
The team said it also prevents the build-up of toxic plaques on the brain that contribute to other symptoms of the disorder.
Liraglutide is prescribed to those suffering from diabetes and is used to stimulate insulin production and comes from a class of drugs known as Glucagon-like peptide-1 analogue.
However the research shows the drug can pass through the blood-brain barrier and protect brain cells.
The study tested liraglutide on the brains of 14 month-old mice who were suffering from late stage Alzheimer's disease. It was injected into the mice over a two-month period and during this time, the mice demonstrated a much better performance on object recognition tests, while their brains showed a 30 per cent reduction in the build-up of toxic plaques.
As a result of the study, the first clinical trial of liraglutide in patients with Alzheimer's disease has started.
It is being partly funded by the Alzheimer's Society as a part of its Drug Discovery program and Dr Paul Edison of Imperial College London will lead it. The trial will begin recruiting patients over the coming few weeks.
The flagship Drug Discovery programme aims to repurpose existing drugs for other conditions as dementia treatments. An earlier study of liraglutide funded by the charity showed promising results in mice with early stage Alzheimer's and it is hoped this new one will produce good results.
Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer's Society said: "Developing new drugs from scratch can take 20 years and hundreds of millions of pounds. We owe it to the 800,000 people with dementia in the UK to do everything we can to accelerate the process."