Mission/Science

Our New Therapeutic Molecules Show Promise In Reversing The Memory Loss Linked To Depression And Aging.

These small molecules not only rapidly improve symptoms, but remarkably,also appear to renew the underlying brain impairments causing memory loss in preclinical models.

These findings were presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington DC in February 2019.

“Currently there are no medications to treat cognitive symptoms such as memory loss that occur in depression, other mental illnesses and aging,” says Dr. Etienne Sibille, Chief Scientific Officer of AlphaCogTM and Deputy Director of the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH.

Improving Brain Function for Patients suffering from Memory Deficits

Targeting Impaired Brain Functions

What’s unique and promising about these compounds, in the face of many failures in drug development for mental illness, is that the compounds are highly targeted to activate the impaired brain receptors that participate in memory loss. It took a series of studies, demonstrating the specific impairments to brain cell receptors in the GABA neurotransmitter system, and linking these impaired cells and receptors to memory dysfunctions, before being able to develop drugable molecules.

New Small Molecules to Fix the Impairment

The new small molecules were invented to bind to and activate this receptor target. The idea was that they would have a therapeutic effect by “fixing” the impairment, resulting in an improvement in symptoms. The molecules are chemical tweaks of benzodiazepines, a class of anti-anxiety and sedative medications that also activate the GABA system but are not highly targeted.

Promising Preclinical Finding Raising Hope for Patients

A single dose of these new molecules was administered in preclinical models of stress-induced memory loss. Thirty minutes later, memory performance returned to normal levels, an experiment that was reproduced more than 20 times. In another experiment involving preclinical models of aging, memory declines were rapidly reversed and performance increased to 80 per cent after, essentially reaching levels seen in youth or adulthood. This improvement lasted over two months with daily treatment.

BBC World News

February 15, 2019

Dr. Etienne Sibille on new compounds for cognitive dysfunction in depression and aging.