US Alzheimer’s patients and their families have urged physicians and advocacy groups to deliver an off-label cancer drug proved to reverse the disease in mice.

A flurry of calls from patients came after it was revealed in a recent study that skin cancer drug bexarotene was found by researchers to clear amyloid-beta, the main component of destructive amyloid plaques, from the brains of Alzheimer’s mice, and stimulated the rapid reversal of cognitive, social, and olfactory deficits and improved neural circuit function.

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America chief executive Eric Hall told the Wall Street Journal, "The Alzheimer’s community is very desperate for anything that shows any sign of hope or promise." While he is "cautiously optimistic" about the drug, he warned: "I don’t think people should be taking this in their own hands or running to it."

Bexarotene is sold under the name Targretin in the US and is owned and marketed by Japan-based Eisai Co.

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