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 -
Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.' - Peter Watts, 1999.
NASA's Prototype Lunar Greenhouse For Mars And Moon
'In contrast to the airless desolation outside, the interior of this five-acre greenhouse was the one most desirable place to be.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Researchers Say 'Biohybrid Robot' - Clarke Said 'Biot'
'... The biological robots were not living creatures.' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.
Unique DNA To Foil Parts Counterfeiters
'... the only molecule, a unique protein amino acid, which could not be duplicated.' - Philip K. Dick, 1965.
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.
Bat Bot Robotic Flapping-Wing Drone
'The dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread...'
NASA's Astronaut Rescue Ball
'Ball and closely-prisoned man plummeted downward..'
ARM Wants To Build Brain Chips
'Slivers of microsoft, angular fragments of colored silicon...'
Sky Fence - A Drone-Proof Shield Created Over Prison
'There’s still a protective field over the whole thing. It volatilizes anything that tries to get through.'
Geoengineering The Atmosphere For Climate Change
'...a uniform temperature for each degree of latitude the year round.'
Archinaut Orbiting Robotic Factory
'mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'
Cryonic Preservation - The Last Perk You'll Ever Need
'Is there not also a law providing for voluntary suspension of animation?'
Computers Understand Humans By Watching And Modeling Them
Soon, your computer will be watching you... and judging you.
NASA Asks For Moon To Earth Delivery Ideas
'Authority's 3-g catapult was almost one hundred kilometers long...'
Musk Tunnels Wisely Restrict Drivers
Too many robots.
Robot Swarms Controlled With Augmented Reality
'You're not thinking in enough dimensions...'
MIT's C-LEARN Helps Robots Transfer Learning To Other Robots
'Talk Between Robots radio...'
Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.'
Rapid Automated Search For Habitable Planets Needed
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'
WatchSense Perfect For Fat-Fingered Smartwatch Owners
'Now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components...'
Digital Construction Platform Robot 3D Prints A Building
'It extrudes material like a spider.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories