A new study being conducted at Roper St. Francis Hospital in Charleston is using nicotine to treat mild memory loss.
Dr. Paul Newhouse told South Carolina Radio Network that the MIND Study is testing whether the nicotine patch can improve memory and functioning in people who have mild memory loss.
“We’re looking for adults 55 and older who are non-smokers currently,” Newhouse said. “They can be ex-smokers, but not smoking currently.”
You may be eligible to participate if you have been diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or if you or your family members notice changes in your memory.
The study will follow the participants for up to two years with treatment and evaluations every three to six months.
Because nicotine is present in tobacco products, people often think it is addictive and harmful. But the naturally-occurring stimulant is safe when used as a transdermal patch. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows nicotine to be made available over the counter in patch form.
Researchers say nicotine stimulates certain brain cells that can enhance brain function. They hope it could have could have significant benefits when it comes to treating MCI, because it is an inexpensive, readily available treatment.
The MIND Study is funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and led by Vanderbilt University and the University of Southern California’s Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute.
If you are a healthy, non-smoking adult age 55 and over, you can visit MINDStudy.org or call 866-MIND-150 to learn more.