Medical

New experimental drug rapidly repairs age-related memory loss and improves mood

New experimental drug rapidly ...
It's hoped a new drug showing promise for reversing age- and depression-related memory loss will move into human safety testing within the next two years
It's hoped a new drug showing promise for reversing age- and depression-related memory loss will move into human safety testing within the next two years
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It's hoped a new drug showing promise for reversing age- and depression-related memory loss will move into human safety testing within the next two years
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It's hoped a new drug showing promise for reversing age- and depression-related memory loss will move into human safety testing within the next two years

A team of Canadian scientists has developed a fascinating new experimental drug that is purported to result in rapid improvements to both mood and memory following extensive animal testing. It's hoped the drug will move to human trials within the next two years.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a key neurotransmitter, and when altered it can play a role in the development of everything from psychiatric conditions to cognitive degeneration. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, are a class of drugs well known to function by modulating the brain's GABA systems.

This new research describes the development of several new molecules that are structurally based on benzodiazepines, but with small tweaks to enhance their ability to specifically target certain brain areas. The goal was to create a new therapeutic agent that can effectively combat age-related mood and memory alterations caused by disruptions in the GABA systems.

"Currently there are no medications to treat cognitive symptoms such as memory loss that occur in depression, other mental illnesses and aging," says Etienne Sibille, from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and lead scientist on the new research.

In animal tests the drug has been found to be remarkably effective, with old mice displaying rapid improvements in memory tests within an hour of administration, resulting in performance similar to that of young mice. Daily administration of the drug over two months was also seen to result in an actual structural regrowth of brain cells, returning their brains to a state that resembles a young animal.

"The aged cells regrew to appear the same as young brain cells, showing that our novel molecules can modify the brain in addition to improving symptoms," says Sibille.

The experimental drug is not some miracle cognitive enhancer however, with no beneficial effects seen when administered to younger mice. So it seems likely the drug's modulations to the brain's GABA systems is directly related to normalizing either age- or stress-related disruptions.

It's still very early days in the drug's development, and while it has been demonstrated as safe so far in animal experiments, it has yet to be proven harmless or effective in humans. The researchers suggest human testing should begin within the next two years, and while initial human trials may concentrate on depression-related memory deficits, the broader applications for the drug are exciting. If it proves safe and efficacious it could be a useful preventative tool, administered in short bursts to subjects in their 50s or 60s to slow the onset of age-related dementia and cognitive impairment.

The new study was published in the journal Molecular Neuropsychiatry.

Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

6 comments
bill43
Siri, in two years, remind me of the memory drug, GABA.
Howe
bill - lol
Gregg Eshelman
Two years from now, nobody will be doing anything with this. There's too much money in treating various conditions this could cure. Same reason why only one human has had the treatment of using an olfactory nerve cell autograft to repair spinal cord damage. That person had the treatment 7 years after he was stabbed in his back, completely severing his spinal cord. Last I found on the guy he was able to use a walker to get around. In China they've developed eye drops to restore the enzymes that make the lens flexible, curing presbyopia. They've also been able to remove and regenerate the lens (in dogs) to cure cataracts, and of course that would get rid of presbyopia. Around the world techniques and drugs are being developed to induce regeneration of tissues to repair the body, yet few have even progressed to early human trials. There's more $ in implants, mechanical aids, and *treatments* that alleviate symptoms but still leave the person with the problem.
charles25
Aren't diazepines highly addictive? Certainly Xanax is, and I believe Valium, too. Of course, the claimed effects would be addictive as well as beneficial.
Ralf Biernacki
@Gregg: It's not so much that there is money in obsolete treatments; the real problem is that the cost and risk of moving any new pharmaceutical past the mouse stage is prohibitive. The regulations require years of costly human trials. If there is /any/ side effect discovered during those trials---if 1% of test subjects develop diarrhea or a runny nose---the drug is disqualified, and all the research costs go down the drain. And even if the drug somehow makes it through, and side effects show up in actual use---then the company is liable for staggering damages, even if the side effects are hard to prove: courts consistently adjudicate whatever compensation lawyers ask for. And naturally, the drug is then disqualified. So there is huge financial risk whenever a new drug is brought to market. Under these circumstances, the only new pharmaceuticals that are worth the investment are ones that treat trivial conditions (less risk of complications) and have a huge prospective market (more hope of recouping the massive costs). Diet aids; hair loss treatments; pain relievers; laxatives; those are the drugs that make the cut. Cancer drugs; dementia treatment; cures for rare and debilitating diseases; these are the risky ones, the most likely to have strong side effects, and with a limited market. No company can operate at a loss, so these drugs are developed to the brink of human trials and shelved, to await a better regulative and legal climate. Unless a less punitive environment for experimental medicine is pushed past the legislators (who unfortunately are mostly lawyers themselves, and protective of ambulance chasers), you are not likely to have these drugs on market anytime soon.
neoneuron
The quickest way to wreck a brain is to constantly expose it to STRESS. Everything from diabetes, ulcers, insomnia, to brain cell death is tied to STRESS. Valium, and similar medications may be vilified by you, but at the same time it quiets down the brain activity, and saves cells. I can imagine how much you would also vilify CBD, THC, cannabis, and marijuana. (Which ever words you want to use for it.)