There is an experimental drug that is being tested in the fight against Alzheimer’s-related memory loss, and its main ingredient comes from an unlikely place: a sea creature that lives in the ocean and looks like seaweed. The drug is called Bryostatin-1, and the sea creature is a filter-feeding invertebrate called a bryozoa.
Volunteers who had already been diagnosed with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s participated in trial studies for the drug. During these trials, researchers found that volunteers who received low doses of Bryostatin-1 showed improved scores on cognitive tests after just 12 weeks. The volunteers who were given a placebo version actually scored lower on the same cognitive tests after 12 weeks.
According to the study, Bryostatin-1 targets the damage that Alzheimer’s has wreaked on synapses and neurons in the brain, rather than targeting the plaques and proteins that are typical of Alzheimer’s disease. Although the study done was small, the results show that Bryostatin-1 is an effective treatment that helps to improve memory, thinking, and behavior in those who are already suffering from Alzheimer’s. Bryostatin-1 has also been used in HIV/AIDS research as a possible treatment, and it has been looked at as a possible cancer-fighting drug as well.