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Drug Found to Create New Connections in Brain, Restoring and Improving Memory
Date:12/4/2007

Family of Drugs Could Repair Brain Damage and Treat Alzheimer's Disease

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., Dec. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Scientists at the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI) have discovered that a cancer drug - Bryostatin - enhances the formation of new connections in rat brains during memory storage. This drug could potentially increase normal memory capacity in humans as well as repair and restore memory lost from Alzheimer's disease, stroke and head trauma.

In an article to be published in the December 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), BRNI Scientific Director Daniel Alkon, M.D., and Jarin Hongpaisan, Ph.D., describe how the cancer drug Bryostatin stimulates the production of connections between neurons in the same structural way that memory storage does naturally. Bryostatin essentially rewires the brain.

"There have been no effective drugs to promote brain repair," Dr. Alkon said. "Bryostatin and other BRNI drugs in this class could introduce a whole new era for brain repair. At the same time, we are now closer to understanding what controls the growth of synaptic connections in the adult brain."

The BRNI research shows that a healthy brain normally undergoes some "rewiring" when it stores memories. Bryostatin enhances this rewiring in normal healthy brains and also creates new connections in brains that have been ravaged by Alzheimer's disease, stroke or head trauma.

Alkon and Hongpaisan used high-powered electron microscopes to directly visualize these synaptic connections between neurons. They also used molecular markers to label these connections to confirm the synaptogenesis induced by memory and Bryostatin.

"Diseases like Alzheimer's actually destroy synapses in the human brain. There is still no recognized cure," said Dr. Alkon. "In our animal studies with Bryostatin, damaged brains repaired synaptic connections of cells that were ruin
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SOURCE Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute
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