What happens when we forget? In diseases like Alzheimer’s, remembering basic details about who we are, where our home is and whether the man standing close by is the husband become arduous tasks that cannot be fathomed. But, what if we had a pill to help us remember? The research of a couple of scientists in the city may make this a reality.
Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awardee Professor Tapas Kundu and Prof M Eswaramoorthy, along with their research groups at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, have figured out a way to activate an enzyme that enhance memory.
Kundu designed a molecule 10 years ago that will kick into action chemicals in the brain that are necessary for enhancing memory. But now, Eswaramoorthy’s group has figured a way to deliver this molecule to the brain by tagging it to a nano particle, one-thousandth the width of a human hair, of glucose-based carbon.
“We have found that the molecule supports neurogenesis—the growth of new cells in the brain. We are confident that these molecules can be used in the therapy of neurodegenerative diseases,” Kundu said.
Eswaramoorthy and his group facilitated this with the nano particle, which was seen to cross the blood-brain barrier. By attaching the activator molecule to it, the researchers managed to effectively reach the brain of mice and activate the acetyltransferase enzymes there.
Kundu, who won this year’s Ranbaxy Award for Biomedical Research in Basic Science, told Express: “We have two further collaborations. One is with a group of scientists in France where we will work on Alzheimer’s models in mice and see if we can help them with this molecule. The second is with scientists in AIIMS, New Delhi, and the Central Government’s Department of Biotechnology, in which we plan to evaluate the molecule’s toxicity.”
Kundu is a bit worried about using the glucose-based particle to send the activator molecule to the brain as it can be broken down in the body quite easily. Sorting this issue could be crucial for human trials.
Kundu has collaborated with Dr Anne Laurette Boutillier’s group in Strasbourg, France for furthering this study. They have also shown through experiments with mice that the activator molecule increases enzyme activity in the brain that helps enhance memory.