New research suggests that a cancer drug might be able to restore day-to-day memory in patients with Alzheimer's disease.
The disease, the most common form of dementia among the elderly, is expected to afflict 120 million people worldwide by 2050. Often the first sign is loss of short-term memory.
"People often joke that they must have Alzheimer's because they can't remember where they put their keys, but for a person with the disease, this type of short-term memory loss is extremely debilitating," study author Ottavio Arancio, an associate professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University Medical Center, said in a news release.
The researchers examined a cancer drug from a family of compounds called HDAC inhibitors. The drug tinkers with DNA, and in the mice the researchers studied, it appeared to make it easier for neurons in the brain to manufacture new proteins.