Potential Role of Nicotine in Combatting Memory Loss
A study released in the January 9th issue of the Journal of Neurology suggests that nicotine patches may help individuals with early memory loss. Dr. Paul Newhouse, a professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, led a study which showed that six months of nicotine patch treatment among patients who had mild cognitive impairment – often a precursor to Alzheimer's disease - had a 46% improvement in their long-term memory for their age. The patient group who received a patch without nicotine showed a 26% decline in memory. Both patient groups were treated for six months.
Nicotine is only one of a family of related compounds known as alkaloids. Anatabine, another compound in the same family, has been actively pursued by Star Scientific for a variety of uses, including as a supporter for memory loss. Star Scientific subsidiary Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals also has a number of patents pending that relate to the administration of anatabine for treatment of a variety of neurological conditions, among other things.
Researchers at the Roskamp Institute in Sarasota, Florida, have shown that an anatabine compound supplied by Rock Creek has beneficial effects on memory and learning in animal models of Alzheimer's Disease. Michael Mullan, MD, Ph.D., CEO of the Roskamp Institute and his colleague, Dr. Daniel Paris, published these findings in October, 2011 in the European Journal of Pharmacology. Dr. Mullan has commented, "Anatabine may have several advantages over nicotine in the support of memory with aging. For instance, anatabine seems to have a longer half-life in the blood, which necessitates less frequent dosing, and has shown no abuse potential in animal screening. In addition, anatabine is able to lower amyloid levels in animal models of Alzheimer's disease which become abnormally high as the disease progresses." Dr. Mullan also commented that the Roskamp Institute is actively pursuing the use of anatabine as a support for memory loss, and will be initiating human studies to explore further this potential role for anatabine.