PKR-Inhibiting Drugs May Boost Memory
Suppression of the molecule PKR (the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase) may help in the formation of long-term memory in the brain, according to researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine.
Suppression of the PKR molecule
in mutant mice (right) enhances learning
and memory by lowering GABA release,
compared to the process in "wild type"
(normal) mice (left))
"The molecule PKR (the double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase) was originally described as a sensor of viral infections, but its function in the brain was totally unknown," said Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli, assistant professor of neuroscience at BCM and senior author of the paper. Since the activity of PKR is altered in a variety of cognitive disorders, Costa-Mattioli and colleagues decided to take a closer look at its role in the mammalian brain.
The authors discovered that mice lacking PKR in the brain have a kind of "super" memory. "We found that when we genetically inhibit PKR, we increased the excitability of brain cells and enhanced learning and memory, in a variety of behavioral tests," he said. For instance, when the authors assessed spatial memory (the memory for people, places and events) through a test in which mice use visual cues for finding a hidden platform in a circular pool, they found that normal mice had to repeat the task multiple times over many days in order to remember the platform’s location. By contrast, mice lacking PKR learned the task after only one training session.
Another key finding made by Costa-Mattioli and his team of researchers was the fact that this process could be mimicked by a PKR inhibitor - a small molecule that blocks PKR activity and thus acts as a "memory-enhancing drug."
"It is indeed quite amazing that we can also enhance both memory and brain activity with a drug that specifically targets PKR". Definitely then, the next step is to use what we have learned in mice and to try to improve brain function in people suffering from memory loss, said Costa-Mattioli.
SF fans have long memories on this topic. In his 1985 story Stone Lives, Paul Di Filippo wrote about a drug called mnemotropin:
One day Stone notices a pill on his lunch tray. He asks June its nature.
"It's a mnemotropin - promotes the coding of long-term memories," she replies. "I thought it might help you..."
(Read more about mnemotropin)
From Baylor College of Medicine via Kurzweil AI.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/18/2011)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.
Bring Back Extinct Animals! Sort of.
'The worldwide network of genetic arks had a surfeit of pachyderms...' - David Brin, 1990
Another Soil Bacterium Eats Plastic
'...the plastic was dissolved before his eyes.' - Michael Crichton, 1969.
Mushroom Eats Plastic, Saves Planet
Fungus Amongus, SaveUs!
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'
Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'
Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'
Would You Get 'Chipped'? Michigan May Ban Employers
'Employees above a certain level were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'
Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.'
DNA Controls Swarms Of Molecular Robots
'They exist in loose swarms...'
Tether Asteroids To Save Us All
'If anything can glue the asteroids back into the planet they once were, magnology will do it.'
Blaux Your Personal Commuter Cooling Unit
A cooling unit had to be strapped to every commuter's back, by law.
3D Printed Damascus Steel Now Possible
'...lined with durite, that strange close-packed laboratory product.'
R9X Hellfire Missile With Long Blades Kills Queda Leader
'He was still roaring when the knife missile flicked past him...'
Would You Swallow An Origami Robot?
'Swallow it in an emergency--it goes down easily and works just as well inside as outside.'
Perhaps You Might Be Interested In Habitable Exoplanet Moon Real Estate
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Blurry Face Photos Made 60 Times Sharper
Perfect tool for blade runners.
SpaceX Will Build Floating Spaceports!
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'
Fast Radio Bursts And Space Beacons For Interstellar Navigation
'Every beacon has a code signal as part of its radiation...'
Robot Garbage Trucks Visualized
'It was a bulky, shining cylinder over twenty metres long.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories