Health & Wellbeing

New drugs promise two days without sleep and improved alertness and cognitive powers

New drugs promise two days without sleep and improved alertness and cognitive powers
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March 5, 2007 Two years ago, we wrote about the “time-shifting” drug, Modafinil that enables you to stay awake for 40+ hours with close to full mental capacity and with few side effects. The drug is a eugeroic and offers improved memory, mood enhancement, improved alertness and cognitive powers, and has a much smoother feel than amphetamines because they work differently. Popular Science is now reporting that we’re just about to see new forms of super eugeroic called armodafinil (Modafinil’s creator Cephalon is awaiting FDA approval for the drug), and a drug code-named CX717 from Cortex. Both drugs promise even longer periods of wakefulness, and in experiments with Ampakine CX717, sleep-deprived rhesus monkeys on the drug often outperformed their own well-rested but undrugged best efforts on mental-performance tests. While these drugs will be marketed to assist people with sleep disorders like narcolepsy, it’s their potential as recreational and workplace performance-enhancing drugs that make them worth watching. The times they are a changing …

Cortex Pharmaceuticals and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) tested Ampakine CX717 in an attempt to reverse the effects of sleep deprivation in non-human primates. They measured decrements in cognitive performance and reaction time in rhesus macaque monkeys. Under carefully controlled conditions and constant medical monitoring, the monkeys were individually sleep-deprived for 30-36 hours and re-tested at that time.

When monkeys are sleep deprived their performance accuracy is reduced by 15-25%, and their reaction times slow by at least 50%.

A dose of 0.8 mg/kg of CX717 completely reversed the performance deficits associated with sleep-deprivation.

In addition, specific brain EEG changes that occur after sleep deprivation were returned to the non-sleep-deprived state in the CX717 group, but not in the control group. Thus, CX717 counteracted the effects of periods of prolonged sleep deprivation when given immediately before testing.

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