Vascular drug sharpens middle aged (rat) minds

A team of research scientists found that a long-used vascular drug improved the memory of rats. And the team says that the same drug could offer a new approach to combating neurodegenerative diseases as well as the normal cognitive decline seen in middle age.

Over the past decade Fasudil has been used to help treat stroke victims and repair vascular damage in the brain. And in the study a group of rats injected with the active ingredient in Fasudil demonstrated markedly improved memory compared to the control arm.

"The collected findings and the relative safety of Fasudil support [its] potential ... as a cognitive enhancer in humans [who] have age- or neurodegenerative-related memory dysfunction," the study, which appears in Behavioral Neuroscience, concluded.

"We have identified a drug that seems to benefit both the cardiovascular system, which it was originally designed to do, and the central nervous system, a new indication," said lead author Matthew Huentelman, PhD. "We are actively exploring options for a clinical trial in the areas of cognitive impairment and dementia using the well-tolerated pro-drug Fasudil."

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