The results appear in the journal Brain.

Neuropathologist Dr Payam Rezaie, from the Open University, said: “This is not a cure for neurodegenerative diseases or dementia, it will not reverse the course of illness, and the neuroprotective effects were observed in the majority of, but not in all experimental animals.

“Nevertheless, it could represent a significant step forward in attempting to halt these diseases in their tracks, and as the researchers state, considering its existing licence for use in elderly patients, trazodone in particular would be a potential candidate for clinical trials moving forward.”