Science closing in on mystery of age-related memory loss

May 6, 2010

The world's scientific community may be one step closer to understanding age-related memory loss, and to developing a drug that might help boost memory. In an editorial published May 7 in Science, J. David Sweatt, Ph.D., chair of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Department of Neurobiology, says that drugs known as histone deacetylase inhibitors are showing great promise in stopping memory loss - and even in boosting the formation of memory in animal models.

Sweatt's editorial was published in conjunction with findings published in Science from researchers led by Shahaf Peleg at the European Neuroscience Institute at University Goettingen in Germany. The European researchers' findings supplement and support work done previously in Sweatt's laboratory.

"It's a real proof of concept," said Sweatt. "We've been studying histone deacetylase inhibitors for some 10 years. Studies in our lab and elsewhere strongly suggested that these drugs could potentially reverse aging-associated memory dysfunction.

"The new results from Peleg's group provide important proof-of-principal that this might be a viable approach to therapeutic interventions in aging."

Sweatt, director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at UAB, cautions that the findings have so far only been observed in mouse models. He says further research is warranted to see if the findings translate to in humans.

He is especially encouraged because histone deacetylase inhibitors seem to be beneficial in both normal age-related , as evidenced by the Peleg team's findings, and in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, as reported by Sweatt's laboratory earlier this year in a different paper in Neuropsychopharmacology.

"These studies will hopefully lead to more effective prevention strategies to improve quality of life in the aged, as well as contribute to a better understanding of memory," Sweatt said.

Explore further: Drug triggers body's mechanism to reverse aging effect on memory process

Related Stories

Cancer drug enhances long-term memory

June 5, 2007

A drug used to treat cancer has been shown to enhance long-term memory and strengthen neural connections in the brain, according to a new study by UC Irvine scientists.

Future therapies for stroke may block cell death

June 14, 2007

A new therapy to re-activate silenced genes in patients who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases or stroke is being developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Cornell University.

Scientists ID gene key to Alzheimer's-like reversal

May 6, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A team led by researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory has now pinpointed the exact gene responsible for a 2007 breakthrough in which mice with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease regained ...

The early detection of age-related memory deficits in mice

March 29, 2010

By studying the aging of memory in the mouse, CNRS researchers (France) have developed an experimental protocol that can detect age-related memory deficits at an early stage. They have shown that even at 10 months, which ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.