The team's research centers on a protein in the brain called STtriatal-Enriched tyrosine Phosphatase (STEP). While STEP is essential to regulating learning and memory, high levels prevent the strengthening of synapses in the brain. This synaptic strengthening is necessary for people to convert short-term memories into long-term memories, therefore disruption of the process can lead to a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer's.
The scientists studied thousands of molecules in search of one that would inhibit the negative effects of STEP. They identified the compound TC-2153 and proceeded to examine its efficacy in curtailing the impacts of STEP, observing a reversal of deficits in a number of cognitive exercises, including the mouse's ability to remember objects it had seen previously.