Health News

Anti-Cancer Drug Could Be Used To Treat Alzheimer’s Disease


New research has shown that a drug used to fight cancer may also help Alzheimer’s and dementia patients by keeping neurons alive and rewiring the brain.

The drug, RGFP966, has also been linked to sharpening memory and making it easier to learn a second language.

Times of India reports that rats who were administered the drug showed signs of being more attuned to what they hear, remembering more information, and developing new connections in the brain that allows memories to be transmitted.

Kasia M. Bieszczad, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California-Irvine, said that the memory-making condition in patients with Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions is often “poor or absent altogether once a person is in the advanced stages of the disease.”

What happens inside the brain of a patient with dementia is that brain cells shrink and die as the synapses that transfer information between neurons become weak, reports Medical News Today. There are no therapeutic treatments thus far to treat or reverse the condition.

Bieszczad believes RGFP966 could actually restore the ability to make new memories, even in the worst cases and more advanced scenarios.

RGFP966 belongs to a class of drugs called HDAC inhibitors. These drugs are used in cancer treatments because they stop the activation of genes that turn normal cells in cancer cells. HDAC inhibitors also make neurons in the brain more plastic, which causes memory enhancement.

In their research, Bieszczad and her colleagues taught rats to listen for certain sounds to receive a reward. The rats who were administered the drug after the training remembered the sound and responded correctly more often than those that did not receive the drug.

Those rats who received the drug also showed to be more “tuned in” to sounds used during their training, which suggests the drug helps the brain process and store significant sounds more effectively.

The researchers hope that use of this drug can “rewire” the brain by keeping neurons alive to create memories rich in content.

RGFP966 has the possibility of creating memories that are “closer to a snapshot of the actual experience instead of being sparse, limited or inaccurate,” said Bieszczad.

People normally remember an experience with limited detail; not everything we see, hear and feel is remembered. What has happened here is that memory becomes closer to a snapshot of the actual experience instead of being sparse, limited or inaccurate.

In an unrelated study, scientists discovered new breakthroughs in reference to the plaque that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, which could lead to treatments for the disease.

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