A recent test on rats has revealed to Arizona researchers that a drug that has been used tii now for treating vascular problems in brain can also effectively improve learning and memory.
The drug known as Fasudil, which has been used for more than 10 years to treat vascular problems in the brain, often helping with recovery from stroke, has been found to improve cognition in middle age rats.
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During the study, the researchers injected hydroxyfasudil, the active form of Fasudil, into middle-aged (17-18 months old) male rats daily starting four days before behavioural testing and continuing throughout testing.
The rats were tested on the water radial-arm maze, which assessed how well they remembered which of the radiating arms had a reward, a sign of accurate spatial learning and working memory.
The team found that rats given a higher dose successfully remembered more items of information than those given a low dose.
Moreover, the high-dose group showed the best learning (and best working memory).
The findings suggest that hydroxyfasudil may be involved in two crucial cognitive processes, learning and working memory, both involving the hippocampus.
Although the mechanism is unclear, but hydroxyfasudil's parent drug, Fasudil, is known to protect the brain by dilating blood vessels when blood flow is curtailed.
"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 Dr. Matthew Huentelman.
"We are actively exploring options for a clinical trial in the areas of cognitive impairment and dementia using the well-tolerated pro-drug Fasudil," he added.
The finding appears in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience.