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Blood doping drug 'appears to improve memory'

Blood doping drug 'appears to improve memory'
15th September 2008

A drug which has been linked to athletics doping scandals may have positive effects on memory, according to a new study.

Research published in the open-access journal BMC Biology suggests erythropoietin (EPO) may improve memory due to a direct effect on neurons in the brain, as opposed to any effect it might have on blood production in the body.

According to scientists involved in the study, the findings could prove useful in the development of treatments for diseases which affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.

The researchers revealed that treatment with EPO appeared to "increase the number of inhibitory circuits, which actually increases the efficiency of transmission of excitatory nerve impulses in specific neurons, resulting in greater short-term and long-term plasticity in memory pathways in the hippocampus".

Hannelore Ehrenreich, of the Max Planck Institute, compared the enhanced memory function seen in mice with the dramatic improvement in endurance and muscular performance experienced by athletes who have used the drug.

Meanwhile, a separate study published in the British Medical Journal has referred to the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet on the brain.

Scientists at the University of Florence said their findings showed that people who stayed on such a diet were less likely to suffer from major chronic diseases.

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