A new study has linked nicotine and improved memory function, suggesting that targeting nicotine receptors in the brain could prevent Alzheimer’s memory loss. The research gives hope to those suffering from the disease and their families.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, with symptoms including memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. In the UK alone there are more than 850,000 people affected by Alzheimer’s disease and this number is predicted to rise to over two million by 2051 if action isn’t taken to address the symptoms and research a cure.
It is a progressive disease, meaning that gradually more parts of the brain are damaged and symptoms become more severe or new ones develop over time. A number of factors can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, such as increasing age, previous severe head injuries and a family history of the condition, and while there is currently no cure for the disease, medication can temporarily reduce symptoms or slow the progression in some cases.
Nicotine may improve memory…
While a breakthrough cure is yet to be discovered, research suggests that nicotine could hold the key for slowing or preventing memory loss, a common symptom that affects many suffering from the disease. Memory lapses are often one of the areas that concerns patients and their families the most and can be a scary and difficult aspect of the disease to deal with.
The latest research, conducted by Institut Pasteur, a private foundation focussed on preventing and treating diseases, and the French National Centre for Scientific Research, indicates that nicotine could provide a solution for preventing Alzheimer’s related memory loss. The research will no doubt give new confidence to those that have experienced the impacts of memory loss, both first hand and through family members, that a solution is close at hand.
The scientific research team found that by blocking the nicotine receptors in the brain, memory and cognitive issues linked to Alzheimer’s disease do not develop. Models indicated that the blocking meant individuals were protected from the toxic effects associated with Alzheimer’s developing. The study now aims to develop a therapeutic molecule that resembles nicotine.
The study isn’t the first to indicate that nicotine may be beneficial for memory function but it shed some additional light on the link by determining the precise structure of nicotine receptors in the brain.