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Jet lag drug may help Alzheimer's sufferers

12th April 2006

A drug used by travellers to ease the effects of jet lag could help Alzheimer's patients, according to recent research.

Scientists from around the world have found that melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain, is thought to help prevent the onset of dementia through its antioxidant features, which reduce the brain plaques and tangles associated with the disease.

Independent tests by researchers in Asia, Europe and the US also claim that melatonin, which is available over-the-counter in pharmacies, can lessen sleep disruption and the effects of sundowning, a phenomenon that prompts many Alzheimer's sufferers to experience increased disorientation and agitation in the late afternoon and early evening.

The discovery of the preventative and palliative effects of the drug for Alzheimer's patients is expected to significantly boost sales although the substance is anticipated to remain cheap and widely available as pharmaceutical firms cannot patent natural substances.