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$9-a-tablet drug used to treat HIV patients could help reverse memory loss

Nine dollars per tablet of medicine used to treat HIV patients could help reverse memory loss in old age, study finds little tweak to begin with

  • Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the drug would be moved to human trials to investigate whether it could boost memory
  • The drug works by disabling a gene that causes a protein HIV to use to infect cells
  • This same gene also leads to the depletion of needless memory cells

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A $ 9 drug per tablet used to treat HIV could also help reverse memory loss in older people, a new study finds.

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that Maraviroc – sold under the brand name Selzentry – improved memory in middle-aged animals.

It will now be moved to human trials to investigate whether memory can strengthen or be an early intervention for demintens patients.

The drug works by activating a specific gene that makes a cellular protein that is used by HIV to invade it.

But this same gene is also involved in clearing needless memory cells, with studies showing that when it is removed, memory is enhanced.

More than five million Americans suffer from dementias, estimates suggest, with limited treatments available to slow the symptoms of disease. There is no cure.

A UCLA research team found that Selzentry could limit cognitive decline in rats, and are ready to begin human trials

What is maraviroc (Selzentry)?

This medicine is prescribed to HIV patients to limit their infection.

It works by disabling a gene that encodes a part of a cell that HIV uses to invade it.

This limits the infection by stopping the virus from making more copies of itself.

The medicine is taken as two tablets a day – priced at $ 9 each – for as long as needed.

About 90 percent of HIV patients have the strain that can suppress the drug.

Researchers, who published their findings in the journal Nature, conducted the first experiments on mice.

They found that when the CCR5 gene was too active, the rodents forgot the difference between two different keys, they said.

But when it was wiped the animals were found to have much better memory and connection between brain cells.

This was also observed when they were administered the drug.

Professor Alcino Silva, the neurobiologist leading the study, said: ‘Our next step will be to organize a clinical trial to test the effect of maraviroc on early memory loss with the aim of early intervention.

“Once we fully understand how memory decreases, we have the potential to slow down the process.”

He explained that brains rarely store memories on their own and instead in groups, thus triggering the memory of one another.

But as they get older, the brains gradually lose this ability to link memories together, leading to problems with relapse.

Maraviroc has been in use in the US since 2007, and in 2016 was also approved for patients over two years old.

It is administered as a liquid as tablets, with patients being told to take the medicine twice a day for as long as they have the infection.

People infected with the CCR5 tropical type – which accounts for more than 90 percent of HIV cases – may be prescribed the drug.

Dementia is triggered when damage builds up in brain cells, making it difficult for them to communicate with each other.

Sufferers often lose interest in their normal activities, may have difficulty controlling behaviors and emotions, and may find social situations difficult as well.

There are several medications available to treat dementias – but these all focus on slowing the progression of the disease.

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