Nine dollars for a tablet drug used to treat patients with HIV could help reverse memory loss at an older age, a study finds little trim to begin with.
- Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the drug will be moved to human testing to investigate whether it could strengthen recall.
- The drug works by disabling a gene that makes a protein that HIV uses to infect cells
- This same gene also leads to the removal of unnecessary memory cells
A new study finds that a $ 9 tablet tablet used to treat HIV could also help reverse memory loss in the elderly.
It will now be moved to human testing to explore whether it can strengthen memory or be an early intervention for dementia patients.
The drug works by disabling a specific gene that makes a cellular protein used by HIV to invade them.
But this same gene is also involved in removing unnecessary memory cells, with studies showing that when it is deleted memory is accelerated.
More than five million Americans suffer from dementia, estimates suggest, with limited treatments available to slow the symptoms of the disease. There is no cure.
A UCLA research team has found that Selzentry has been able to limit cognitive decline in rats, and is ready to begin human trials.
What is maraviroc (Selzentry)?
This drug is prescribed to HIV patients to curb their infection.
It works by disabling a gene that encodes a part of a cell that HIV uses to invade it.
This slows down the infection by stopping the virus from making more copies of itself.
The drug is taken as two tablets a day – at a price of $ 9 each – for as long as necessary.
About 90 percent of HIV patients have the strain that the drug can suppress.
Researchers who published their findings in the journal Nature conducted the initial tests on mice.
They found that when the CCR5 gene was over-active, the rodents forgot the difference between two different cages, they said.
But when it was removed, the animals were found to have a much better memory and connection between brain cells.
This was also observed when they were administered with the drug.
Professor Alcino Silva, the neurobiologist who led the study, said: “Our next step will be to organize a clinical trial to test the influence of maraviroc on early memory loss with the aim of early intervention.
“When we fully understand how memory is declining, we have the opportunity to slow down the process.”
He explained that brains rarely store memories on their own and instead in groups so that remembering one triggers others.
But as they age, brains gradually lose this ability to bind memories together, leading to problems with memory.
Maraviroc has been used throughout the United States since 2007, and in 2016 was also approved for patients over two years of age.
It is administered as a liquid or tablet, and patients are told to take the drug twice a day while they have the infection.
People infected with the CCR5 tropical type – which is responsible for more than 90 percent of HIV cases – may be prescribed the drug.
Dementia is triggered when damage builds up in brain cells, leaving them struggling to communicate with each other.
Sufferers often lose interest in their usual activities, may have problems managing behavior and emotions, and may also find social situations difficult.
There are several medications available to treat dementia – but all of these are focused on slowing the progression of the disease.