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The drug, called DELTA-8, has been shown to work on the brain memory center to make it function like that of someone two decades younger. Scientists used MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) tests on elderly adults and found that they were improving their verbal skills through memory tasks much better than those who hadn’t taken the drug at home. The findings are reported in the journal “Neurobiology of Aging.”

“These results are very encouraging,” said neurologist Dr. Gary Small of UCLA (the University of California at Los Angeles). “This is the first time we’ve seen this level of improvement in any medication for age-related memory impairment among older adults.”

The study, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), collected eight adults between the ages of 55 and 76 with memory problems. Four were given DELTA-8 and the others a placebo (sugar pill). All participants took part in one-hour sessions five days a week for 12 weeks. Participants were tested before and after completing the course on their ability to recall words, pictures, and the location of objects among other things.

“The people who had taken DELTA-8 performed like people nearly 20 years younger,” said Dr. Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center. “They had this tremendous increase in recall abilities.” The effects lasted as long as 30 days after individuals stopped taking DELTA-8, according to Dr. Small.

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The DELTA-8 study was based on the theory that amyloid plaque builds up in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease and inhibits their ability to learn new information and remember things. Using a substance designed to eliminate this plaque, researchers were able to boost memory by restoring connections between neurons (nerve cells) in the brain related to memory.

“We believe it works by stimulating specific receptors on nerve cells,” said Dr. Small who is also a professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “It rejuvenates aging synapses (connections between nerve cells).”

Dr. Small believes that some drugs in the future will be designed to target specific aspects of memory. “Right now we just don’t do that,” he said.

The researchers believed that because delta 8 onlinewas well tolerated in the study, it might be an ideal drug for treating milder cases of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 4 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and by 2050 there could be as many as 16 million suffering from this devastating disease.