Drug in Class of Anti-Cancer Compounds (HDAC Inhibitors) Appears to Sharpen Memory

Can you imagine a drug that would 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 University research published in the September 23, 2015 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience 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 able to develop new connections that allowed these memories to be transmitted between brain cells. The Journal of Neuroscience article is titled “Histone Deacetylase Inhibition via RGFP966 Releases the Brakes on Sensory Cortical Plasticity and the Specificity of Memory Formation.” "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 Dr. Kasia M. Bieszczad, the lead author and Assistant Professor in Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers. "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 currently no therapeutic treatment available that reverses this situation. The drug being tested in this animal study is among a class known as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, now being used in cancer therapies to stop the activation of genes that turn normal cells into cancerous ones. HDAC inhibitors, in general, act to transcriptionally activate certain genes and to inactivate certain other genes.
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