Scottish researchers may have found a key to improving memory loss in seniors by blocking a stress hormone that in turn interferes with the brain's memory system. The treatment is reported to work extremely fast on elderly mice, and researchers hope to begin human trials soon.

In a study published on October 13 in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers at the University of Edinburgh discovered a way to suppress an enzyme involved in the production of stress hormones. The enzyme, called 11beta-HSD1, has a detrimental effect on memory - and the enzyme is more active in older people, causing forgetfulness both common and frustrating to the aging population. 

Researchers developed a new synthetic compound that works to block the enzyme from amplifying stress hormones. After 10 days of treatment in mice of the ripe old age of two, the mice showed improved memory performance. Researchers hope to begin human trials within the year.

Dr. Jonathan Seckl from the University of Edinburgh discovered the role of 11beta-HSD1 in the brain, and suggested in a news release that a life-long deficiency of the enzyme leads to a better memory as a person ages.

Supplements such as ginkgo have been used to enhance memory, but research is mixed with some clinical trials showing the compound to be ineffective in treating dementia.

Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Florida in the US discovered that cell phone radiation boosted the memories of young mice and even reversed Alzheimer's symptoms in old mice.

To access the study in The Journal of Neuroscience: