New way to reverse the effects of memory decline discovered, research says

Published 28 July 2011

A hypertension drug could reverse the effects of memory decline, research published in Nature Wednesday, 27 July 2011 suggests.

Researchers from Yale University found memory function was worse in older monkeys than younger monkeys. They identified that this was linked to the accumulation of a protein (cAMP) which made it difficult for cells in the prefrontal cortex area of the brain to communicate.

Compounds, including the drug guanfacine - a licensed hypertension drug - were shown to prevent the accumulation of this protein and restore memory.

Alzheimer's Society comment:

'This research helps us understand what happens in the brains of older people experiencing memory problems. It also, significantly, shows these changes could be reversible. However we don't know whether the treatments investigated would work for humans. Equally as the scientists were looking at normal ageing the findings do not yet have direct relevance to dementia.

Much more research is now needed. There are 750,000 people with dementia, yet research into the condition receives eight times less funding than cancer. If we are to move closer to understanding the causes and finding a cure then we must act now.'

Dr Anne Corbett
Research Manager
Alzheimer's Society

Research Reference:
Wang, Gamo et al, 'Neuronal basis of age-related working memory decline', published online in Nature, on Wednesday, 27 July 2011.
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