PHOENIX, Ariz. Feb. 2, 2009 A drug used to improve blood flow to the brain also could help improve learning and memory and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study released today by investigators at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Arizona State University.
Fasudil has been used for more than 10 years to help protect the brain in stroke patients by dilating blood vessels when blood flow is curtailed.
Now, a team of Arizona psychologists, geneticists and neuroscientists report in today's edition of the journal Behavioral Neuroscience that hydroxyfasudil, the active form of the parent drug Fasudil, improved spatial learning and working memory in middle-aged rats when negotiating a complicated maze.
The findings suggest that hydroxyfasudil may influence similar cognitive processes in humans involving the hippocampus, a part of the brain that has been shown to deteriorate in patients with age-related disorders.
"If Fasudil proves to be safe and effective in enhancing learning and memory, it could represent a viable new option for the prophylactic treatment of disorders with a cognitive decline component. This could include diseases like Alzheimer's as well as general age-related impairment. In short, it may be a new pharmaceutical weapon that could be used even before the occurrence of symptoms," said Dr. Matthew Huentelman, an Investigator in TGen's Neurogenomics Division.
Clinical trials are being explored in the areas of cognitive impairment and dementia, said Huentelman, the scientific paper's first author.
Although far from proving anything about human use of the drug, the findings supports the scientific quest for a substance that could treat progressive cognitive impairment, cushion the impact of aging, or even enhance learning and memory throughout one's life span.
"Fasudil shows great promise as a cognitive enhancer during aging,'' said
|Contact: Steve Yozwiak|
The Translational Genomics Research Institute