Posiphen is being tested in a phase 1 clinical trial by the drug maker Axonyx for the potential treatment of Alzheimer's progression.
A research team from the University of Central Florida in Orlando said their independent study showed that Posiphen enhanced the ability of transplanted human neuronal stem cells to differentiate into neurons in transgenic mice.
The mice provided a model of Alzheimer's disease in humans, the researchers said.
The scientists found that when they pre-treated the transgenic mice with Posiphen, the human neuronal stem cells (HNSCs) began to differentiate into neurons in the brain. In contrast, the stem cells transplanted into the brains of mice not treated with the drug failed to differentiate into neurons.
The researchers surmised that these differing outcomes were due to the fact that Posiphen seems to suppress a key protein known as the amyloid precursor protein (APP), allowing production of new neurons in the brain.
The team noted that the ability of the transplanted stem cells to become functioning neurons is critical to developing a stem-cell therapy that treats Alzheimer's disease.
"Although a better understanding of the mechanisms of APP function HNSC biology may be needed," said researcher Kiminobu Sugaya, "regulation of APP levels by a combination of Posiphen and stem cell treatments could be a promising strategy to treat (Alzheimer's)."