Molecules Developed to Stimulate Memory

Help in regulating the dendritic spines.

USA – A team of chemists from the University of San Diego, California, led by Jerry Yang , has engineered a set of molecules that promote microscopic and anatomical changes in neurons linked with the formation and preservation of memories.

The study examined the effect of this new drug in the density of dendritic spines, sites where the synapse occurs (where neurons connect with each other).  Treatment becomes an important candidate to prevent neural structures deterioration when the fragment of beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, appears.

According to Yang the problems with learning and memory in many neurodegenerative and neurodevelopment such as Alzheimer’s disease and certain forms of autism or mental retardation consist of either loss or poor regulation of dendritic spines. Yang and co., have developed compounds that may offer the possibility to compensate, or ideally preserve neuronal communication in people suffering from memory problems.

When the researchers treated the neurons in a part of the brain critical for the formation and retrieval of memories with the new compound, an increase in the density of dendritic spines was recorded.  They also avoided the loss of dendritic spines which occurs in the presence of beta-amyloid, the substance that forms amyloid plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.  Thanks to this treatment thorns density increased from 20 to 25%.

 According to the results, published in Journal of Biological Chemistry, the higher the drug concentration, the greater the density of the spines.  The effect is also reversible: once the compound disappears, so do the dendritic spines.

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