Cancer Drugs Appear to Boost Long-Term Memory

Mouse study hints at treatments for Alzheimer's, other brain diseases, in humans

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WEDNESDAY, June 6, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Anti-cancer drugs called histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors improved long-term memory and strengthened neural connections in the brains of mice, says a University of California, Irvine, study.

The findings suggest that HDAC inhibitors may prove useful in treating people with Alzheimer's and certain other brain diseases, the researchers said.

In their experiments with mice, the team found that HDAC inhibitors relax the protein structure that organizes and compacts genomic DNA, which enables easier activation of genes involved in memory storage.

The findings, which are published in the June 6 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, suggest that HDAC inhibitors could increase memory in humans and help treat people with Alzheimer's and Huntington's diseases and Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome.

"We have demonstrated for the first time that HDAC inhibitors applied directly to the hippocampus enhance memory and synaptic plasticity in the brain, and we now know a molecular mechanism through which these enhancements occur," study co-author Marcelo Wood, an assistant professor in the department of neurobiology and behavior, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about memory loss.

SOURCE: University of California, Irvine, news release, June 5, 2007


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