An asthma drug can help mice to retrieve memories that they otherwise cannot recall, Dutch scientists have found.
Researchers at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, found that mice failed at a spatial learning task when they were deprived of sleep, but regained their memories after being given the asthma drug roflumilast.
Additionally, the scientists saw they could also restore the memories of the mice by activating their neurons in a brain region, called the hippocampus, using light – a technique known as optogenetics – by targeting the same pathway in the brain that is activated by roflumilast.
This showed that the information was not ‘lost’ by the mice, but stored in its hippocampus – involved in memory and leaning – and that brain stimulation was needed to retrieve the memories once more.
Professor Robbert Havekes, at Groningen, thought that it may be possible to reactivate memories in people with age-related memory problems or early stage Alzheimer’s by using the drug.
“Maybe we could reactivate specific memories to make them permanently retrievable again, as we successfully did in mice,” he said.