Medication that has been given to stroke patients to protect their brain may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Arizona State University have found Fasudil improved spatial learning and working memory in middle-aged rats while they were involved in a complicated maze.
Traditionally, Fasudil has been used to improve blood flow to the brain.
The positive findings from the study suggest the drug may benefit humans and protect the hippocampus, which is involved in creating memories in the brain, from deteriorating.
"If Fasudil proves to be safe and effective in enhancing learning and memory, it could represent a viable new option for the prophylactic treatment of disorders with a cognitive decline component," Dr Matthew Huentelman, an investigator with TGen, said.
The doctor added the drug could also be a "new pharmaceutical weapon" that can be administered prior to any symptoms.
In the study, middle-aged male rats were given a high dose of Fasudil and found they successfully remembered more when compared to another group operating on a low dose of the medication.