According to a study conducted by researchers from Rutgers University, a cancer drug may help in boosting and sharpening memory by rewiring the brain and sustaining the life of neurons. The study aims to help patients suffering from a debilitating and degenerative disease, dementia.
In the study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the drug called RGFP966, which was tested on laboratory rats, showed significant findings in sharpening the memory. According to Science Daily, this drug will make it easier for patients to learn a language or retain memory easier.
When tested on rats, they found out that they were more attuned to what they were hearing and were able to retain more information. Subsequently, these rats have created more connections within their nervous system making it easier for transmission of memory or signals from the brain to the cells and vice versa.
"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," Kasia M. Bieszczad, lead author and assistant professor in Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology said in a press release.
She added, "This drug could rescue the ability to make new memories that are rich in detail and content, even in the worst case scenarios."
Dementia accounts for 47.5 million cases worldwide and is projected to increase to 75.6 million by 2030. According to the World Health Organization, this number might triple by 2050. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia and in the United States and it is the only disease included in the ten leading causes of mortality that has no cure, cannot be prevented and or slowed down.
When a person has dementia, the brain cells or neurons shrink and die. Mainly, this is caused by the degeneration of synapses connecting neurons to each other and serve as bridges were signals pass through. When brain cell death is prevented or slowed down, this may show promise in future innovations in the treatment of this disease.
The cancer drug is a HDAC inhibitor which is used in cancer treatment to alter or halt the activation of genes that turn normal cells into malignant ones. Thus, it helps turn the brain cells into a material like plastic that can enable connections and sharpen memory.
Science Daily added that these rats were taught to listen to a certain sound. Some of the rats were included in the treatment group and some were in the control group. The treatment group received RGFP966 and the others did not. According to their findings, those who received the drug remembered what they learned and responded to the sound at a better rate after acoustic training than those who did not receive the drug.
Professor Bieszczad said, "People normally remember an experience with limited detail - not everything we see, hear and feel is remembered."
She added, "What has happened here is that memory becomes closer to a snapshot of the actual experience instead of being sparse, limited or inaccurate."