A COMMON anti-depressant could become the first drug to HALT dementia.

Research showed trazodone stops brain cells dying, a hallmark of the incurable condition.

The drug has already been used to treat people suffering late-stage dementia – but it could be prescribed to patients at an early stage of the neurological disorder.

And the brain cell effect was also seen in trials of another drug called dibenzoylmethane.

The breakthroughs raise the possibility of an “off-the-shelf” treatment for dementia sufferers in as little as two years.

Dr Doug Brown, of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We’re excited by the potential of these findings.

As one of the drugs is already available as a treatment for depression the time taken to get from the lab to the pharmacy could be dramatically reduced.”

Although trazodone is currently licensed as an anti-depressant it is being “repurposed” to assess its impact on other conditions.

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