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Aspirin could treat diseases like Alzheimer's

Posted: 6:58 AM, Dec 02, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-02 14:58:49Z

A new study says a drug most Americans store in medicine cabinets can treat deadly diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's.

Aspirin has long been dubbed "The Wonder Drug" and is commonly used to treat heart attacks, headaches and pain.

"I've had a total knee replacement done and they said to take an Aspirin every day," said George Vigil, who takes it daily.

But researchers at the Boyce Thompson Institute and Johns Hopkins University think they may have found a new use for it -- treating neurodegenerative diseases.

The journal PLOS ONE published the findings last week. 

"I think we are always excited when we see possibilities for new research," said Amelia Schafer, Vice President of Programs at the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado. "I think all of us want to find a cure."

Schafer would like to see the research move into clinical trials, but acknowledges these early findings provide hope for families.

"My wife's mother has dementia and she's almost under 24-hour care, so she takes care of her everyday," said Vigil. "She gives her an Aspirin hoping that her dementia and Alzheimer's will come around someday."

The science behind the study shows patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases have a certain enzyme, called GAPDH, that can enters cells and cause cell death.

The breakthrough focuses on the salicylic acid in Aspirin, which binds to GAPDH and blocks it from entering cells.

"If it can be something as simple as going to your bathroom and opening the medicine cabinet, that would be wonderful," said Schafer. 

If the research proves to work in clinical trials, Aspirin would be a more accessible and affordable option.

"I think she was paying like $100 a tablet for some other stuff for Alzheimer's," said Vigil, describing his mother-in-law's situation. "We can't afford that."Anchor cam tag=

The Alzheimer's Association stresses the importance of waiting for more research to be done. It could be dangerous for patients to start taking higher doses of Aspirin without their doctors' approval.