Memory loss can be one of the most distressing effects of getting older, but there’s new hope from researchers who have discovered a compound that could be used to create drugs to help prevent memory loss linked to ageing.
Many people find they become more forgetful or have difficulty in concentrating in old age. Such memory loss has been linked with high levels of ‘stress’ steroid hormones known as glucocorticoids.
An enzyme called 11beta-HSD1 is involved in making these hormones and has been shown to be more active in the brain during ageing.
The University of Edinburgh study found that with a new synthetic compound they were able to block 11beta-HSD1 significantly improving memory and brain function in ageing mice within just 10 days.
In older mice the compound led to improvements in the ability of mice to complete a memory task, called the Y maze.
Professor Jonathan Seckl said: “Normal old mice often have marked deficits in learning and memory just like some elderly people.