Hopes are high that an experimental drug could help stabilise the development of Alzheimer's disease in women.
US firm Voyager Pharmaceutical tested leuprolide acetate on some 109 women with mild to moderate forms of the disease.
The drug, which was injected in two stages along with one of four acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AchEIs) approved for the treatment of Alzheimer's, was found to work best when the higher doses were administered.
"The cognitive and functional stabilization we observed in study participants treated with the higher of the two tested doses of leuprolide acetate plus AChEIs as compared to those in the placebo group, who also received AChEIs, was encouraging in the first of our two Phase II studies," explained Dr Brian Reynolds, director of medical and scientific information at the firm.
The company is now set to press on with another trial to test the efficacy and safety of the drug, which is thought to slow the progression of the disease by lowering the release of the luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland.
Should the additional tests prove successful, the drug could be granted marketing rights by the Food and Drug Administration within three years.