In a new study entitled “Histone Deacetylase Inhibition via RGFP966 Releases the Brakes on Sensory Cortical Plasticity and the Specificity of Memory Formation” a team of researchers at Rutgers University discovered that the drug RGFP966 changes how audible memory is formed and that RGFP966-treated rats have stronger memories that are retained and transmitted to other brain cells. The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
RGFP966 belongs to the class of histone deacetylases (HDACs) inhibitors – a class of chemicals that works by inhibiting epigenetic mechanisms, and is now being used in cancer therapies to stop the activation of genes that turn normal cells into cancerous ones. The team discovered that rats treated with RGFP966 exhibited enhanced memory, as a result of increased neuronal plasticity and connection, which can have important implications in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Kasia M. Bieszczad, study lead author and assistant professor in Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology noted, “Memory-making in neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease is often poor or absent altogether once a person is in the advanced stages of the disease. This drug could rescue the ability to make new memories that are rich in detail and content, even in the worst case scenarios.”
The authors showed RGFP966’s potential in laboratory rats using a standard exercise where the animals associate a sound with a reward. They discovered that administering RGFP966 to rats after their training significantly increased memory formation and response to the respective sounds, when compared to untreated mice. Moreover, the team discovered that RGFP966-treated rats could recognize and were “fine-tuned” to the correct sounds, therefore increasing both accuracy and memory potential.
Bieszczad noted that these findings are of particular importance when considering human speech and language, “People learning to speak again after a disease or injury as well as those undergoing cochlear implantation to reverse previous deafness, may be helped by this type of therapeutic treatment in the future. The application could even extend to people with delayed language learning abilities or people trying to learn a second language.”