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An apple a day keeps the doctor away . . . but so may a cigarette

HOUSTON Cigarettes might just hold the key to treating some serious neurological problems. Scientists at the University of Houston have unlocked one of the first doors, discovering that nicotine repairs damaged brain function. Karim Alkadhi, associate professor of pharmacology, and his team of researchers at the UH College of Pharmacy recently have established that nicotine has a beneficial effect and, in many cases, even repairs memory impairment caused by stress on the brain.

Stress has long been shown to trigger various biological responses in the body, with scientific research increasingly supporting the pivotal role it can play in both aggravating and causing certain disorders, many of which are damaging if not deadly. According to the American Institute of Stress, up to 90 percent of doctor visits can be attributed to stress-related maladies, making stress among America's top health problems.

Alkadhi will present the findings of his research team regarding the effect nicotine has on stress-induced memory impairment, as well as how nicotine may improve some of the learning and memory problems associated with hypothyroidism, such as cloudy thinking and inability to concentrate, at the Society for Neuroscience 33rd Annual Meeting in New Orleans Tuesday.

This research eventually may help scientists develop new approaches and therapeutic agents that run the gamut from boosting memory to treating hypothyroidism. Even greater are the implications for such devastating diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's that could be helped once safe approaches are designed to mimic the beneficial effect of nicotine on stress.

Next on the agenda for the UH team is to decipher how stress and hypothyroidism produce mental deficits and what role nicotine plays in correcting them.


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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
11-Nov-2003


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