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Prince
02-18-2009, 08:48 AM
Steroids For the Brain?
BY SHARON KIRKEY, CANWEST NEWS SERVICE

A drug used for stroke patients may help sharpen middle-aged brains, researchers are reporting.

In the latest development in the quest for cognitive enhancers, researchers found the drug Fasudil significantly improves learning and memory in middle-aged rats.

If proven in humans, the drug may one day help blunt the impact of normal aging "or even enhance learning and memory throughout the life span," the American Psychological Association said in an announcing the findings, published in the February issue of the journal, Behavioral Neuroscience.

"I do think that we are going to move into that area," says lead author Matthew Huentelman, an investigator at the non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

"Really, we stumbled on this drug, and what do we do with it? Our drug is only supposed to be used for sick people. Can it be used for healthy individuals as well? It's a tough question."

University students are already using Ritalin and other prescription amphetamines to boost their grades. A survey by Nature, a top science magazine, last year revealed one-fifth of its global readership admitted to using "cognition-enhancing" drugs to help them concentrate. And seven prominent neuroscientists and ethicists recently argued in the same journal that not only is the trend likely to grow, but that "mentally competent adults" should be free to use safe cognitive enhancements without being made out to be felons.

But is using brain enhancers to boost productivity and give people a competitive edge cheating, like doping in sports? Would workers need protection from pressure from employers to "enhance?"

Several drugs now being tested in humans may help stave off normal, age-related memory decline in healthy people, and many drugs used to treat psychiatric and neurological problems can increase how quickly and accurately people think.

The Arizona study began several years ago, when researchers identified a gene that plays a role in memory in humans.

Next they looked for drugs that affect the gene's function. They tested Fasudil, a drug that improves blood flow to the brain, in rats.

They took 18-month old rats -- the equivalent of late-middle-aged humans -- and gave the rodents daily injections of hydroxyfasudil, the active form of Fasudil. (In rats, it's easier to give the drug by injection. People take it in pill form.)

The dosed rats performed significantly better on water maze testing learning and memory than rats given a saline solution. The doped rodents performed more like four-month old rats, or the equivalent of a teenager in human years.

There were no side effects, and the drug has been shown to be safe and well tolerated when used in humans. The findings, and the relative safety of the drug, support its potential as a "cognitive enhancer in humans," the researchers report.

Huentelman worries about cognitive-enhancers creeping into high schools and colleges, but if the drugs can push out the onset of Alzheimer's by even five years, "that's a massive impact."

"To me, aging is the worst disease, because it happens to all of us. Improving our ability to age, aging more gracefully as they famously say, is a benefit for all."

Four of the researchers hold stock in the drug company that owns the rights to develop this drug class as a potential memory enhancer. They said the company was not directly involved in the study and did not fund any part of it.

THE WAY I SEE IT, this is something I had hoped would come out. Not only because I need it, but also because it lends credence to our argument. More and more we're seeing advances in science and technology that bring the medical field more and varied drugs for people who aren't sick. Typically, drugs are used to treat sick people. Steroid were really the first non-recreational drugs (drugs that don't elicit an immediate euphoric response) that healthy people took for non-medicinal reasons.

The uproar over steroids in sports should be echoed in an equally uproarious opposition to the use of mind-enhancing drugs in the field of academics or business. If brain enhancers can proliferate in such fields, will people who fall short on IQ feel pressure to take them? Will kids take them? Will some schools or businesses ban them, making those who use them cheaters? Will teens commit suicide from stopping these drugs cold turkey because of the ensuing depression of becoming dumb again? I mean, can you imagine the congressional hearings decrying artificially enhanced higher intelligence, with weeping testimonial from the bereaved parents of kids who kill themselves because they felt stupid? Would brain enhancers then join steroids as schedule III drugs on the DEA's list of controlled substances?

Not likely. It seems that athletic performance is the only stronghold for fair play. Even when there's money involved and bad messages sent to kids, it's only sports that wear the reins in enhancing performance. It's clear that technology will continue to find ways to enhance our lives and quality of it. For the most part, any and all of these means will be looked at as a godsend for many. But God forbid if a grown man wants to use a little more of what he already has.

I'm glad these new drugs that enhance mental acuity and intelligence are finally emerging. With any luck we can feed them to our congressmen before the next session convenes. In today's climate, we can stand to do away with the dummies!

chrito
02-18-2009, 10:14 AM
good post Prince!

chrito
02-18-2009, 10:15 AM
Great post Prince!

IronAddict
02-18-2009, 10:31 AM
A cognitive enhancer. Wow, that is pretty cool!

Merkaba
02-18-2009, 01:57 PM
Uh oh...the next thing you know it will be in a drink claiming to give you "mental clarity" while you lift. :moo:

min0 lee
02-18-2009, 01:59 PM
good post Prince!


Great post Prince!

So good he had to say it twice.