Deprenyl is a neuro-protective drug that was discovered in Hungary in 1961. It has been prescribed as a treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, and even taken daily by adults looking for a cognitive enhancer as they age.
The story behind deprenyl is fascinating. It starts with a man named Joseph Knoll, who was a Hungarian neurochemist and pharmacologist, and the discoverer of deprenyl, the first selective MAO-B inhibitor (we’ll explain what this means shortly).
Dr. Knoll wrote a book called The Brain and Its Self: A Neurochemical Concept of Inate and Acquired Drive. This book summarizes his research and explains his story and how he came to select his research. Dr. Knoll was a Nazi concentration camp survivor, his parents passed away in the gas chamber, but Dr. Knoll survived, mainly because he spoke fluent German. He was even chosen to serve as the personal servant to the Chief of SS guards. Post-war, Dr. Knoll returned to Hungary where he earned his M.D at the University of Budapest and went on to become a professor and the head of the Department of Pharmacology. Dr. Knoll became interested in studying how animals acquire new drives, he studied brain changes in rats, seeing how acquired drives formed.
In 1961, Dr. Knoll came up with deprenyl in his Budapest lab. He showed that deprenyl improves the availability of dopamine and slows down its age-related decline by acting as a selective MAO-B inhibitor. He also showed that deprenyl has a enhancer effect and helps maintain healthy brain cells. It has shown to do this especially in the dopamine-producing area of the brain called the substantia nigra, which is the area that degenerates with Parkinson’s Disease. This is why deprenyl has been used as a treatment for Parkinson’s Disease and also Alzheimer’s Disease and other diseases that cause cognitive decline.
Furthermore, deprenyl has been shown to have many uses. Here are some of the benefits:
Dr. Knoll himself takes deprenyl daily and recommends every adult do so.
The following are some excerpts taken from an interview with Dr. Knoll and David of Mavericks of the Mind (shown as D) website.
D: How did your experience with the holocaust when you were young influence your decision to become a research scientist, and what inspired your interest in neurochemistry?
Dr. Knoll: It is a horrifying fact that in Germany millions of single-minded little-men, who had previously lived a honest simple life and never belonged to extremist groups, dramatically changed within a few years after 1933 and, imbued with the Nazi ideology, became unbelievably cool-headed murders of innocent civilians during the Second World War. This phenomenon has been documented from many angles in dozens of novels, films, and so on. However, we are still waiting for an adequate elucidation of the brain mechanism responsible for this dramatic and rapid change in the behavior of millions.
As a survivor of Auschwitz, and one of the 1300 survivors of the “Dachau death train,” I had the opportunity to directly experience a few typical representatives of this type of manipulated human beings, and had more than enough time and direct experience to reflect upon the essential changes in the physiological manipulability of the human brain. It was therefore not just by mere chance that, when in the early 1950s I finally had the opportunity to approach this problem experimentally, I decided to develop a rat model to follow the changes in the brain in the course of the acquisition of a drive from the start of training until its manifestation.
D: What are some of the disorders that deprenyl has proven itself to be an effective treatment for?
Successful clinical studies with deprenyl were executed in depression and in the two age-related neurodegenerative diseases: Parkinson’s Disease and Alzhiemer’s Disease. The first clinical study performed in depressed patients by Dr. Varga with deprenyl was published in 1965. The clinical use of deprenyl in Parkinson’s Disease started in 1977. The first two papers demonstrating the effectiveness of deprenyl in Alzhiemer’s Disease appeared in 1987. Deprenyl was originally developed with the intention to be used as a new spectrum antidepressant. Its effectiveness was first demonstrated with the racemic form of the compound by Dr. Varga and his coworkers in 1965 and 1967, and with the enantiomer in 1971. The first study that corroborated the antidepressant effect of deprenyl was published by Dr. Mann and Dr. Gershon in 1980.
The realization of the peculiar effect of deprenyl–first in Parkinson’s Disease and later in Alzhiemer’s Disease–distracted attention from its antidepressant property which remains unutilized. Even an especially interesting aspect of this problem fell into oblivion. In a depression study performed by Dr. Birkmayer and his coworkers in 1984 on a hundred and two outpatients and fifty-three inpatients, deprenyl was given together with phenylalanine. The latter is the precursor of phenylethylamine (PEA) that, in contrast to PEA, crosses the blood-brain barrier and, as it is metabolized in the brain, increases the concentration of this natural enhancer substance. Nearly seventy percent of the patients achieved full remission from depression. The outstanding clinical efficiency was equaled only with that of electroconvulsive treatment, but without the latter’s side effect of memory-loss.
See more at: http://mavericksofthemind.com/dr-joseph-knoll#sthash.48lqCJIM.dpuf
Also check out this video of Joseph Knoll discussing his book on Deprenyl: