East meets West: A new memory enhancing drug based on chinese herbal medicine

August 22, 2000

Blacksburg, Va., August 22, 2000 -- Huperzine A, a compound isolated from the Chinese Medicinal Herb "Qian Ceng Ta," has shown good efficacy in improving the memory in patients suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Despite these promising results, Huperzine A has not been developed as a drug in the West due to scarcity of the natural source, a complicated molecular structure, and the lack of intellectual property protection for this material. Virginia Tech researcher Paul R. Carlier, an associate professor of chemistry, has come up with a novel solution to these problems.

Carlier will present his research at the 220th national meeting of the American Chemical Society Aug. 20-24 in Washington, D.C.

Working in collaboration with researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the Mayo Clinic, Carlier found that a highly simplified fragment of the Huperzine A molecule could be easily synthesized from cheap, commercially available chemicals. In isolation this fragment is ineffective as a memory enhancer. However, based on a detailed analysis of acetylcholinesterase, the brain enzyme with which Huperzine A interacts, Carlier prepared dimeric analogs by joining two of these fragments with a molecular tether.

"Remarkably, the optimum drug obtained by this approach, ('Huperzine A Fragment Dimer') is more than twice as potent as Huperzine A itself," he reports. "The enhanced potency observed is due to two-point attachment of the dimeric drug to acetylcholinesterase," he says.

Carlier stresses that all of the tests have been in animals, including a behavioral assay in rats that establishes improved memory.

"No work has been done in humans; and, even if the compounds prove effective in human, it will be as a treatment of the memory loss in the early stages of the disease," he says. "This approach could never cure Alzheimer's; and, after the disease progresses to a certain point, these drugs could not restore mental function."
-end-
Carlier will present the paper, "Dimerization of natural product fragments: A new strategy for drug design (ORGN 354)," at 2 p.m. Tuesday, August 22, in convention center room 21-22 as part of the symposium on biosynthesis, enzyme inhibitors, and mimetics, saccharids and lipids. Co-authors are Carlier, Da-Ming Du of the HKUST chemistry department, Yi-Fan Han and Jing Liu of the HKUST biochemistry department, Emanuele Perola of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center pharmacology department, Ian D. Williams of the HKUST chemistry department, and Yuan-Ping Pang of the Mayo Cancer Center pharmacology department.

A patent has been applied for.

PR Contact: Susan Trulove
540-231-5646 strulove@vt.edu

Virginia Tech

Related Memory Articles from Brightsurf:

Memory of the Venus flytrap
In a study to be published in Nature Plants, a graduate student Mr.

Memory protein
When UC Santa Barbara materials scientist Omar Saleh and graduate student Ian Morgan sought to understand the mechanical behaviors of disordered proteins in the lab, they expected that after being stretched, one particular model protein would snap back instantaneously, like a rubber band.

Previously claimed memory boosting font 'Sans Forgetica' does not actually boost memory
It was previously claimed that the font Sans Forgetica could enhance people's memory for information, however researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Waikato, New Zealand, have found after carrying out numerous experiments that the font does not enhance memory.

Memory boost with just one look
HRL Laboratories, LLC, researchers have published results showing that targeted transcranial electrical stimulation during slow-wave sleep can improve metamemories of specific episodes by 20% after only one viewing of the episode, compared to controls.

VR is not suited to visual memory?!
Toyohashi university of technology researcher and a research team at Tokyo Denki University have found that virtual reality (VR) may interfere with visual memory.

The genetic signature of memory
Despite their importance in memory, the human cortex and subcortex display a distinct collection of 'gene signatures.' The work recently published in eNeuro increases our understanding of how the brain creates memories and identifies potential genes for further investigation.

How long does memory last? For shape memory alloys, the longer the better
Scientists captured live action details of the phase transitions of shape memory alloys, giving them a better idea how to improve their properties for applications.

A NEAT discovery about memory
UAB researchers say over expression of NEAT1, an noncoding RNA, appears to diminish the ability of older brains to form memories.

Molecular memory can be used to increase the memory capacity of hard disks
Researchers at the University of Jyväskylä have taken part in an international British-Finnish-Chinese collaboration where the first molecule capable of remembering the direction of a magnetic above liquid nitrogen temperatures has been prepared and characterized.

Memory transferred between snails
Memories can be transferred between organisms by extracting ribonucleic acid (RNA) from a trained animal and injecting it into an untrained animal, as demonstrated in a study of sea snails published in eNeuro.

Read More: Memory News and Memory Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.