For years, scientists have held that brain damage is irreversible whether it is due to traumatic injury or stress from aging. However, University of California San Francisco researchers have identified an experimental drug that reverses cognitive and memory declines related to aging. So far, the drug, ISRIB, has demonstrated to be effective in brain function restoration in Down Syndrome patients and those with traumatic brain injury.
Study shows that age-related cognitive loss caused by a reversible blockage
According to the study, the drug can easily unblock brain pathways handling mental flexibility and memory in a few doses. Most importantly, results will start showing as if there was no damage before. Susanna Rosi, Neurological Surgery and Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science department’s professor, said that ISRIB acts quickly. Its effects show that a massive age-related cognitive loss component could be caused by some reversible physiological ‘blockage’ instead of permanent degradation.
According to study data, an aged brain has not lost vital cognitive capacities permanently as assumed mostly. Instead, cognition resources remain but are blocked and trapped by a vicious cellular stress cycle. ISRIB shows that it is easier to break this cycle and restore the cognitive abilities walled off over time.
ISRIB reboots protein-producing mechanisms in cells
Walter’s lab researcher discovered ISRIB in 2013, reboots the protein-producing mechanisms inside the cells following disruption by stress. Usually, cells deal with the disruptions through integrated stress response (ISR). Protein synthesis is vital in cell function and occurs in response to cancer-causing gene mutations or viral infections.
Interestingly, ISR will detect problems with how cells are producing protein and then halt the protein-synthesis machinery. However, despite ISR being vital in removing malfunctioning cells if it is stuck “on position” in brain tissues it can result in problems. It can render cells incapable of performing their functions.
According to the researchers, animal models have shown that ISRIB can restore cognition after traumatic brain injury. Although this is a crazy idea, the drug can reverse brain aging symptoms.