Enzyme Blocking Drug To Stop Memory Loss

Memory-Loss Scottish scientists have come up with a new treatment, which can be used to improve memory and mental performance in older people. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh say that a new experimental compound may improve memory and cognitive function in aging mice. Older mice with memories addled by age could remember as well as their younger counterparts after receiving a drug that blocks a brain enzyme. The finding could one day help people with memory impairment.

It shows that normal memory loss through aging is not irreversible as many assume, says Jonathan Seckl of the University of Edinburgh, UK, who carried out the study. A brain enzyme found in humans and mice, called 11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (HSD1), amplifies the effects of stress hormones called glucocorticoids in the brain. The team has identified a preclinical candidate who they hope to take into human trials within a year.

Many people find they become more forgetful as they get older, and it is generally accepted as a natural part of aging. Absent mind and a difficulty to concentrate are not uncommon, it takes longer to recall a person's name, and we can not remember where we left the car keys. Over a person's life, it weakens the ability to gain the hippocampus to store and recover the memories, so that older people have more problems with their memory, said Seckl. The drug works by blocking HSD1.

An enzyme known as 11beta-HSD1 is involved in making these hormones, and has proven to be more active in the brain during aging. In a study team reports the effect of a new synthetic drug that selectively blocks 11beta-HSD1 on the ability of mice to complete a task memory, called the Y maze. Professor Jonathan Seckl of the University of Edinburgh, who discovered the role of 11beta-HSD1 in the brain, described the findings: normal old mice normally have marked deficits in learning and memory just like some older people.

Seckl now hope to test the drug on humans for toxicology studies are completed. This also inhibits HSD1, but, as it also inhibits other enzymes, it has side effects including increased blood pressure. The effects were seen after just 10 days on this treatment. The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2010. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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