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Pulling Iron From Brain May Offer Hope in Alzheimer’s Fight

To curb the dementia epidemic, focus is shifting to one of the most abundant elements on Earth: iron.

The familiar metal is key to numerous brain functions, but too much of it is toxic. Researchers in Melbourne showed two years ago that iron levels in the brain can predictwhen people will get Alzheimer’s disease. Now, the team aims to show how removing excessive amounts with a drug called deferiprone can stave off the memory-robbing disorder.

Starting within weeks, the world-first study will investigate the 23-year-old medicine in 171 patients with early Alzheimer’s. The yearlong, mid-stage trial represents a new approach to finding a treatment for the biggest cause of dementia -- a condition estimated to afflict a new person every 3 seconds and predicted to cost the global economy $1 trillion next year.

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Written by Jason Gale for


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