Researchers identify a drug that makes neurons grow

Researchers identify a drug that makes neurons grow
Published 8 July 2010

Scientists have identified a drug that makes new neurons grow and improves their chance of survival according to an article published in the journal Cell.

Researchers initially infused 1,000 different chemicals into the brains of mice to see their effects. They then identified eight potential chemicals before focussing their attention on P7C3. P7C3 was particularly successful in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is used for learning and memory. Generating nerve cells to replace those damaged during Alzheimer's may be a new avenue of treatment.  
Alzheimer's Society comment


'This important piece of research could lead to the development of new drugs to produce new nerve cells but we don't yet know if it could be used to treat dementia. Much more research is needed to see whether the drug could be a treatment for dementia, for example by testing it in mouse models of the condition and also by establishing its safety with long-term use.  The researchers also highlighted the need to look again at similar drugs such as antihistamines to see whether they could have similar effects.'


'A million people will develop dementia in the next 10 years. We need further investment in dementia research if we are to move forward in our understanding and treatment of this devastating condition.'


Professor Clive Ballard
Director of Research
Alzheimer's Society

Ref: Andrew A. Pieper et al., 'Discovery of a Proneurogenic, Neuroprotective Chemical', Cell, 9 July, 2010.

- Ends -

Notes to editors:


  • One in three people over 65 will die with dementia.
  • Alzheimer's Society research shows that 750,000 people in the UK have a form of dementia, more than half have Alzheimer's disease. In just 15 years a million people will be living with dementia. This will soar to 1.7 million people by 2051.

•Alzheimer's Society champions the rights of people living with dementia and the millions of people who care for them.



  • Alzheimer's Society works in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

•Alzheimer's Society supports people to live well with dementia today and funds research to find a cure for tomorrow. We rely on voluntary donations to continue our vital work. You can donate now by calling 0845 306 0898 or visiting


  • Alzheimer's Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0845 300 0336 or visit