SA researchers studying how drug treatment could be used to decrease effects of aging mind

Researchers studying effects on primates first

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio scientists are conducting research to find out how drug treatment for cancer patients could be used to help decrease the effects of the aging mind of seniors.

Texas Biomedical Research Institute professor Marcel Daadi, PhD, is trying to figure out how to reverse the effects of age-related cognitive decline by using drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration. He’s using aging baboons to see how a specific drug helps improve their problem-solving skills. 

“The processing of information, the speed of processing, the working memory and other aspects of cognition goes down with age,” he said. 

The primates will be given the dosage and will be observed as they work in front of a computer screen with puzzles and a reward system. Scientists can then see if drugs help improve their solving of the puzzle and their response to the reward.

Daadi said that, with age, the mitochondria in cells begins to slow down and eventually die out. This type of decline can lead to neurological disorders.

Researchers hope the study will be able to find ways to enhance the mitochondria and reenergize the cells' abilities to continue to function as normal.

“If everything works well, it would be very helpful for aging to improve their cognitive function and their interaction with people, their interacting with their loved ones,” Daadi said.

He said baboons are good subjects for this study because they are very curious and like to solve problems. Those 19 years old and older are considered seniors. 

The first phase of the study was to work with stem cells to see how they reacted to different drugs and narrow down the best drug for the study.

The study is funded for about a year. Daadi said he thinks that’s enough time to be able to get some good data and get it to the human aging population quickly.

“It’s not only promising for aging but also for protecting (against) other diseases,” he said.

The study is made possible with the support of the William and Ella Owens Medical Research Foundation.

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