A team of researchers has found that an anti-cancer drug may make it easier to learn a language, sharpen your memory and help those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by rewiring the brain and keeping neurons alive.
New Rutgers research found that a drug – RGFP966 – administered to rats made them more attuned to what they were hearing, able to retain and remember more information, and develop new connections that allowed these memories to be transmitted between brain cells.
Memory-making in neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease is often poor or absent altogether once a person is in the advanced stages of the disease, said lead author Kasia M. Bieszczad, adding that this drug could rescue the ability to make new memories that are rich in detail and content, even in the worst case scenarios.
What happens with dementias such as Alzheimer’s is that brain cells shrink and die because the synapses that transfer information from one neuron to another are no longer strong and stable. There is no therapeutic treatment available that reverses this situation.
The drug being tested in this animal study is among a class known as HDAC inhibitors – now being used in cancer therapies to stop the activation of genes that turn normal cells into cancerous ones. In the brain, the drug makes the neurons more plastic, better able to make connections and create positive changes that enhance memory.
The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.