Scientists have proven that an anti-cancer drug called RGFP966 has the potential to assist Alzheimer’s patients by boosting memory and strengthening neurons.
A team of experts from Rutgers University and the University of California Irvine made this discovery by administering the drug to rats. A sound was played to animals that had received the medicine, as well as to a control group that hadn’t used it. Following that auditory signal, the rats were given a certain reward and their reactions were examined.
It was determined that the drug made mice much more likely to react accurately to the sound, and anticipate their treat. Being under the effect of this medicine, the animals were also much more alert and in tune with their surroundings.
As scientists revealed, the experimental group was more effective in retaining important information by developing new neural pathways. This process allowed the mice to store vivid memories based on their experiences, and to make use of them when completing a task.
RGFP966 is an HDAC inhibitor, which is used as a treatment against cancer, in order to halt genes that might convert normal cells into cancerous ones. It appears that it can also enhance memory by strengthening the connection between neurons and making brain cells “more plastic”.
Patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s experience progressive brain degeneration, because the synapses that convey information between neurons are much weaker and unstable. As a result, brain cells eventually wither and die, and no medical treatment has been discovered that can reverse this condition.
With this anti-cancer drug however it seems that a glimmer of hope has been found when it comes to restoring these essential brain functions.
“This drug could rescue the ability to make new memories that are rich in detail and content, even in the worst case scenarios”, explained lead author Kasia M Bieszczad, assistant professor at Rutgers University.
According to the study, which was published in the Journal of Neuroscience, RGFP966 can help dementia patients by creating new pathways between neurons. It enables information to be more easily processed and stored as a memory, so that it can be used later on when carrying out everyday activities.
Moreover, the drug could also be beneficial to people who have speech difficulties, such as those who are learning to communicate again following an injury or disease. In addition, it could assist previously deaf patients that have been given cochlear implants, or others who suffer from delayed language development.
When being administered this medicine, patients are more capable of detecting new sounds and learning them, in order to develop their own speech. On a more trivial side, the drug could also be beneficial to those trying to learn a new language, by helping them recall words more easily and store them in their brains more effectively.
Image Source: Flickr