|Rutgers' Kasia Bieszczad|
A study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi)--RGFP966--can rescue the ability to form new memories, a well-known feature to go awry in Alzheimer's disease.
"Memory-making in neurological conditions like Alzheimer's disease is often poor or absent altogether once a person is in the advanced stages of the disease," said Kasia Bieszczad, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Psychology.
"This drug could rescue the ability to make new memories that are rich in detail and content, even in worst case scenarios."
Histone deacetylases (HDAC) are a class of enzymes that remove acetyl groups from a lysine amino acid on histone proteins causing chromatin to wind up and transcriptional silencing to ensue. Inhibiting this process with an HDACi, RGFP966, resulted in hyperacetylation of histones and affected the expression of key genes in an animal model.
In the brain, RGFP966 works by making neurons better at making connections between other neurons, which can improve memory in rats. Since memory deficits in Alzheimer's patients come about due to loss of connections between neurons, drugs to reverse this process are sought after. Rutgers says that none currently exist in the clinic.
This particular therapy has been studied before. Two years ago, researchers determined that by amping up memory related to extinguishing drug-seeking behavior, they might be able to throw up a hurdle to cocaine addiction.
The Rutgers scientists also discovered that the rodents were able to "tune in" better to relevant acoustic sounds they heard during the training when they received the HDACi.
"People normally remember an experience with limited detail--not everything we see, hear and feel is remembered," Bieszczad said. "What has happened here is that memory becomes closer to a snapshot of the actual experience instead of being sparse, limited or inaccurate."