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Posts Tagged ‘Memory’

According to a December article in the Journal of the American Medical Association  (JAMA. 2009;302(24):2663-2670. http://tinyurl.com/ginko-dementiaGinkgo Biloba did not slow the rates of global or domain-specific cognitive decline in older adults.  The herbal product Ginkgo Biloba is taken frequently with the intention of improving cognitive health in aging.  However, evidence from adequately powered clinical trials is lacking regarding its effect on long-term cognitive functioning.   The Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 3069 community-dwelling participants aged 72 to 96 years, was conducted in 6 academic medical centers in the United States between 2000 and 2008.  Twice-daily dose of 120-mg extract of G biloba or identical-appearing placebo were given.  Rates of change over time in the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination and in neuropsychological domains of memory, attention, visual-spatial construction, language, and executive functions were evaluated .  Annual rates of decline in the scores did not differ between G biloba and placebo groups in any domains, including memory, attention, visuospatial abilities, language and executive functions.  Compared with placebo, the use of G biloba, 120 mg twice daily, did not result in less cognitive decline in older adults with normal cognition or with mild cognitive impairment.

 

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On its front page, the New York Times (4/6, A1, Carey) reports that researchers at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in Brooklyn, NY, have found an experimental medication that appears to block “the activity of a substance that the brain apparently needs to retain much of its learned information. And, if enhanced, the substance could help ward off dementias and other memory problems.” To date, the team has worked only with animals, but “scientists say this memory system is likely to work almost identically in people.” Previous research has indicated that the “brain appears to retain a memory by growing thicker, or more efficient, communication lines between” its cells. The Brooklyn team found that a substance called PKMzeta appears to be responsible for this communication. When animals are “injected directly into their brain with a drug called ZIP that interferes with PKMzeta,” they appear to forget memories, even strong ones of pain or disgust. To date, “researchers have already tried to blunt painful memories and addictive urges using existing drugs; blocking PKMzeta could potentially be far more effective.”

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HealthDay (3/15, Preidt) reported that “a new class of Alzheimer’s disease drugs may prevent long-term damage from traumatic brain injury, suggests a study of mice by Georgetown University Medical Center researchers.” The medications “– gamma-secretase inhibitors — are designed to target amyloid plaque that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.” Researchers noted that “people who’ve suffered a brain injury have a 400 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.” For the study, which appears in the journal Nature Medicine, they “first conducted tests that showed that brain injury in mice resulted in substantially more amyloid peptide than normal. They then found that amyloid peptide production after brain injury was reduced in mice that received an experimental agent called DAPT, one of the first gamma secretase inhibitors developed and the basis for some Alzheimer’s disease drugs now in clinical trials.” Their findings “suggest that this class of drugs could do something no other drug has been able to do — prevent the long-term and continuing damage that often follows serious brain injury.” The Press Association (3/16) also covers the story.

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Researchers say nicotine patch may help improve memory in patients with MCI. Medscape (3/11, Cassels) reported, “Transdermal nicotine treatment may help improve memory in patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI),” according to a new study. The “large, double-blind, multicenter pilot study” which was presented at a psychiatric association’s meeting recently suggests “that nicotine patches improve attention, memory, and speed, with several other measures showing strong trends toward improvement.” For the study, which was funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), researchers “recruited 74 nonsmoking subjects who met the criteria for amnestic MCI.” Subjects were “randomized to receive either a double-blind nicotine or placebo patch for the first 6 months of the study, followed by a 6-month crossover phase in which all subjects received active treatment.” The researchers said, “We found that over a 6-month period, 23 percent of those in the treatment group vs 9 percent of subjects in the placebo group were improved on the global assessment. This just missed statistical significance, but we believe this is because the study was slightly underpowered to detect statistical significance.”

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