Nicotine to Help Treat Memory Loss?

(Family Features) A study funded by the National Institutes of Health is testing whether the nicotine patch can improve memory and functioning in people who have mild memory loss or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

The largest and longest running study of its kind, the MIND (Memory Improvement through Nicotine Dosing) Study is looking for 300 volunteers at sites across the United States who have mild memory loss but are otherwise healthy, non-smokers over the age of 55.

“The MIND Study will provide valuable information for researchers with regard to early memory loss that is associated with normal aging and early Alzheimer’s disease, but we need volunteers if we are going to succeed,” said Dr. Paul Newhouse, MD, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine and lead investigator for the MIND Study.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately one in five people age 65 or older have mild memory loss or MCI and are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Currently, there is no FDA-approved medication indicated to treat this condition; however, nicotine stimulates an area in the brain known to be important for thinking and memory, and scientists believe it could be an effective treatment for adults with MCI.

“People often think nicotine is addictive and harmful because it is in tobacco products, but it’s safe when used in patch form,” Newhouse said. “Nicotine is an inexpensive, readily available treatment that could have significant benefits for people experiencing mild memory impairment.”

The MIND Study needs 300 people to enroll in sites across the United States. Researchers are looking for healthy, non-smoking adults over the age of 55 who are in the earliest stages of memory loss to participate in the MIND Study.

You, or a loved one, may be eligible to participate if you have been diagnosed with MCI or if you or your family members notice changes in your memory:

  • Are you or a loved one having difficulty remembering recent events?
  • Have you noticed changes in your memory or your loved one’s memory?
  • Is your memory as good as it was two years ago?
  • If you asked someone close to you about your memory, what would he or she say?

Potential study volunteers can learn more by visiting MINDStudy.org or calling 1-866-MIND-150.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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