Scientists have been able to demonstrate that injections of klotho, a naturally occurring protein that declines in mammals with age, can improve cognitive function in aging monkeys, according to a new study.
Before being tested on primates, klotho showed promising cognitive benefits in mice. It was named after Clotho or Klotho, who is a mythological figure. She is the youngest goddess of the Three Fates or Moirai. In ancient Greek mythology, she spins the thread of human life, her sisters pull out (Lachesis) and cut (Atropos) the thread. Her Romanian equivalent is Nona.
How does this injection help memory
The new study, which was conducted by a team of American researchers and recently published in Nature Aging, holds promise that klotho treatments could achieve similar cognitive outcomes in older people.
“Given the close genetic and physiological parallels between primates and humans, this could suggest potential applications for treating human cognitive disorders,” Marc Busche, a neuroscientist at University College London, told Nature.
Despite these promising results, much more research needs to be done to fully understand why protein leads to better cognitive function.
The researchers tested klotho treatments in older rhesus macaques, who were on average 22 years old. For context, as the researchers in the study note, that equates to about 65 human years.
To examine the effectiveness of klotho, the monkeys were subjected to a relatively simple spatial memory experiment. As study co-author Dena Dubal, a physician-researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, described to Nature, the experiment was the equivalent of asking a human to remember where their car is parked. The researchers first hid a certain snack, then got the primates to remember where it had been hidden.
According to the study, the macaques were initially only able to correctly remember where the snack had been hidden about 45 percent of the time. But after receiving an injection of klotho, they located correctly 60 percent of the time—a small but significant cognitive improvement that lasted about two weeks after the injection.