New therapeutic molecules developed at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) show promise in reversing the memory loss linked to depression and aging.

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

“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, Deputy Director of the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH and lead scientist on the study.

What’s unique and promising about these findings, 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 are causing memory loss, he says.

It took a series of studies — the most recent appearing in January 2019 in Molecular Neuropsychiatry — to reach this stage. First, Dr. Sibille and his team identified the specific impairments to brain cell receptors in the GABA neurotransmitter system. Then they showed that these impairments likely caused mood and memory symptoms in depression and in aging.

Read more at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health