Via EurekAlert!: scientists "report a new experimental compound that can improve memory and cognitive function in ageing mice. The compound is being investigated with a view to developing a drug that could slow the natural decline in memory associated with ageing. ... the team has identified a preclinical candidate that they hope to take into human trials within a year. ... memory loss has been linked with high levels of 'stress' steroid hormones known as glucocorticoids which have a deleterious effect on the part of the brain that helps us to remember. An enzyme called 11beta-HSD1 is involved in making these hormones and has been shown to be more active in the brain during ageing. ... the team reports the effects of a new synthetic compound that selectively blocks 11beta-HSD1 ... Normal old mice often have marked deficits in learning and memory just like some elderly people. We found that life-long partial deficiency of 11beta-HSD1 prevented memory decline with ageing. But we were very surprised to find that the blocking compound works quickly over a few days to improve memory in old mice suggesting it might be a good treatment for the already elderly. ... The effects were seen after only 10 days of treatment."