Does Easter Island Hold Alzheimer's Cure?

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Anyone who's ever had to watch a family member wither away from Alzheimer's disease knows how devastating and lingering it can be. I should know, I watched my own grandfather succumb to it.

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So I consider myself and those who've lost loved ones to Alzheimer's invested in the following: Texas scientists reported finding exciting results with a drug called rapamycin that helps restore cognitive skills — such as memory and learning — which erode with age, especially in those stricken with Alzheimer's disease.

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Fitting that a potential cure for one of life's most mysterious diseases should come from one of the world's most mysterious places. Rapamycin is a bacterial product found in the soil on Easter Island, world-famous for its Ahu Akivi statues.

Researchers from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center added rapamycin to the food of healthy mice throughout their lifespan and found that it enhanced learning and memory in young mice and elevated these skills in older mice.

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"We made the young ones learn and remember what they learned better than what is normal," Veronica Galvin said in a press release. Galvin works for Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the University of Texas and was part of the study.

"Among the older mice, the ones fed with a diet including rapamycin actually showed an improvement, negating the normal decline that you see in these functions with age," she added.

The research team published their findings in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

via io9