Alzheimer’s disease and dementia could soon be treated by using a drug that is typically administered in treating cancer.
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating impairment of one’s memory, affecting the ability to process ideas, leading to memory loss and motor function. It’s difficult to treat Alzheimer’s patients once the neurodegenerative disease settles in.
Yet, the new research indicates that there might be hope that the cancer drug, known as RGFP966 could help better the prospects of Alzheimer’s patients. For now, the research has been conducted on rats and several clinical trials should be performed before any results are published.
The paper featuring in the Journal of Neuroscience and co-authored by Kasia M. Bieszczad, Ph.D. and assistant professor at the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine describes how the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDAC) affected the rats.
The drug used in cancer therapies had a surprising effect on the rats’ abilities to focus, to remember information and form memories, as well as to develop new bridges that allowed the information to be transmitted between brain cells.
Alzheimer’s is so debilitating due to the fact that the bridges or synapses that are responsible for transferring information from one neuron to the other become unstable and weak. As such, brain cells are constantly shrinking and dying. The effect of the HDAC was surprising in the sense that it helped the neurons become more flexible, recreated synapses and positively affected memory.
During the research, the rats were trained to listen to one sound. In return, they would receive a reward. For some rats, the reward was the RGFP966. In their case the research team observed that following training they had learned the practice correctly and responded to the specific sound more often than the rats who were given a simple treat.
According to the research team, the rats that were administered the cancer drug were evaluated to be more ‘tuned in’ to the specific sounds heard in their training period. This indicates that the drug enhanced the rats’ ability to store those sounds in a more effective manner. For humans, forming this type of memories is crucial for language and speech.
As a result of better storing the sounds and responding correctly to them, the rats were aided in created new ways of access and reorganizing their routes, indicating again that long-term memory was established more effectively.
Overall, the research findings suggest that the RGFP966 drug could become a prop in treating Alzheimer’s disease and dementia due to its ability to aid with keeping neurons alive and creating new memories.
However, once clinical trials begin, the researchers will test it for a multitude of applications. These would range from aiding people with speech impairment after an accident, or people who present delayed language learning.
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