A new class of drug that can reduce brain inflammation and treat a number of diseases including Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, is under clinical trials.

The new class of drug, developed at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has completed first human phase 1 clinical trials. Researchers say that this drug could lead to newer treatment options for many diseases that affect the brain. 

The class of drugs, called MW151 and MW189, is effective against brain inflammation that can damage the brain cells. The inflammation can occur during a traumatic brain injury or due to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

The drug, when tested on genetically engineered mice, prevented the progress of Alzheimer's diseases.

"This could become part of a collection of drugs you could use to prevent the development of Alzheimer's," said D. Martin Watterson, professor of molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry at the Feinberg School, in a statement. Watterson is a coauthor of the study.

Researchers say that cytokines, a class of protein, are responsible for causing inflammation in response to an external threat are also the factors that impair brain functions. "In Alzheimer's disease, many people now view the progression from mild cognitive impairment to full-blown Alzheimer's as an indication of malfunctioning synapses, the pathways that allow neurons to talk to each other. And high levels of pre-inflammatory cytokines can contribute to synaptic malfunction," said Watterson.

According to researchers, the drug can protect against long-term health complication associated with a traumatic blow to the brain. "The drug protected against the damage associated with learning and memory impairment. Giving this drug before Alzheimer's memory changes are at a late stage may be a promising future approach to therapy," said Linda Van Eldik, director of the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

"If you took a drug like this early on after traumatic brain injury or even a stroke, you could possibly prevent the long-term complications of that injury including the risk of seizures, cognitive impairment and, perhaps, mental health issues," Mark Wainright, MD, professor of pediatric neurology at Northwestern's Feinberg School said.

In multiple Sclerosis, the body's immune system starts attacking the protective covering on nerves thus disrupting the information flow. Researchers say that the drug was able to inhibit the disease.

"We inhibited the development of the disease. Now we need to learn if the drug can prevent relapses of M.S. That study is ongoing in mice and the results will determine whether a patient trial will be planned," said William Karpus, Research Professor of Pathology at the Feinberg School, in a statement. 

The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.