Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada, have developed new therapeutic small molecules that could potentially reverse memory loss caused due to depression and ageing.
The molecules have been designed to bind to and activate the GABA receptor.
This is intended to fix the impairments in the GABA neurotransmitter system that are implicated to be associated with mood and memory symptoms in depression and ageing.
The molecules were invented by chemically altering benzodiazepines, a class of anti-anxiety and sedative drugs that also activate the GABA system.
In preclinical models of stress-induced memory loss, a single dose of the molecules was able to quickly improve symptoms with memory performance returning to normal levels in 30 minutes.
In the case of preclinical models of ageing, therapeutic molecules rapidly reversed memory declines and performance was observed to increase to 80% following administration.
The researchers said that the performance essentially reached levels seen in youth or earlier stages of adulthood, and lasted over two months with daily treatment.
These molecules were able to renew underlying brain impairments that were responsible for memory loss.
CAMH Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute deputy director Etienne Sibille said: “The aged cells regrew to appear the same as young brain cells, showing that our novel molecules can modify the brain in addition to improving symptoms.
“We’ve shown that our molecules enter the brain, are safe, activate the target cells and reverse the cognitive deficit of memory loss.”
The molecules are expected to advance into the clinical research stage in two years. The team believes that the therapeutics have the potential to even prevent memory loss at the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.
Findings from the research were presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington DC, US.