February 24, 2012

Peptide boosts Learning and Memory

A recent study has revealed that Peptide boosts up a number of events inside the neuron that enhances the power of brain to learn and memorize better. The findings of the study were published in the journal PLoS Biology on 22nd February.

Peptides are short polymers of amino acid monomers linked by peptide bonds. They are different from proteins for their size. Polymer is sometimes known as plastics.

The study was done by Jose A. Esteban, Shira Knafo and Cesar Venero. It was a combined study performed by the researchers from The Centro de Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa and UNED (Spain), the Brain Mind Institute (EPFL, Switzerland) and the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology (Faculty of Health Sciences, Denmark).

The study finds that - human brain contains a huge number of neuronal connections, called synapses, whose pattern of activity controls all our cognitive functions. Cognitive function is an intellectual process by which one becomes aware of, perceives, or comprehends ideas. It involves all aspects of perception, thinking, reasoning, and remembering.

The strength and properties of these synaptic connections are dynamic and constantly changing. However this process is found to be the cellular basis which is responsible for controlling the brain’s function of learning, memorizing, thinking, concept making and so on.

The present study provides new intelligentsias on the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity and how this process may be controlled to improve cognitive performance of the brain.

They find that this can be done using peptide, derived from a neuronal protein involved in cell-to-cell communication and the peptide, which is known as FGL in the experiment, activates the supplement of new neurotransmitter receptors into synapses in a region of the brain called the hippocampus, which is known to be involved in multiple forms of learning and memory.

They went through a thorough experiment and found that when this peptide was administered to rats, their ability to learn and retain spatial information was enhanced.

On the other hand some other researchers are doubtful on some points in the findings. The frequent queries among them are - can it cross the blood brain barrier..., have they found a means of artificially reproducing this peptide.

Some researchers are also not certain about the oral dose, and they have advocated for injection because Peptides are normally used either by IM or IV route (intramuscularly or intravenously) since the gastric juiced can hydrolyze the peptides into Amino Acids, thereby rendering them useless as memory enhancing drugs.

Again, although both Homo sapiens and rats belong to the same phylum Chordate and the anatomy of their brain may be identical, but coming to functions of brain, a complete conclusion (so as to true for human being) cannot be drawn from any accurate experiment on a rat’s brain.

So in nutshell, the experiment finds that synaptic plasticity mechanisms can be manipulated pharmacologically in adult animals (by the use of peptide), to enhance the cognitive ability of brain.

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