Drug for all seasons: aspirin may help cure dementia

06 January 2015

The universal over-the-counter drug aspirin, originally created meant to treat headaches, is finding more and more new therapeutic applications.

It started out as a humble painkiller, and was then identified as a remedy in the fight against heart attacks and strokes - and now aspirin may have a role in fighting dementia.

An Australian university has been commissioned by the US-based National Institutes of Health to investigate the humble medicine's anti-dementia powers.

Dementia, where a person's cognitive mind, function and memory become steadily less functional, is now one of the biggest medical challenges for elderly people.

Monash University in Melbourne has begun an A$50 million dollar ($41 million) trial called ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE), local media reported Monday.

It is a joint study with the Berman Center for Outcomes and Clinical Research in Minneapolis, United States.

More than 19,000 Australian patients are involved in the trial.

Aspirin's properties revolve around its ability to stop blood platelets from clumping together, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. But the active ingredient is salicin, originally derived from willow trees, which also has an anti-inflammatory effect.

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