Method for improving learning and treating neurological diseases (SJ-15-0009)

St. Jude Reference #SJ-15-0009


During the first 2 to 4 years of life, humans learn much more efficiently than they do during adulthood. This ability to learn depends on plastic changes in the cortices of the brain. In adults, this plasticity is lost and the ability to learn is diminished. Researchers at St. Jude discovered that inhibiting adenosine production or signaling in the auditory thalamus, which processes auditory information, can convert adult-like plasticity to juvenile-like plasticity. Thus, by inhibiting the expression or function of Nt5e or A1R, learning abilities in adults can be rejuvenated.

This invention provides a method for improving learning and memory and treating neurological disease associated with auditory, visual, somatosensory or motor abnormalities. The invention involves administration of an inhibitor of ecto-5’-nucleotidase (Nt5e, aka CD73) or A1 adenosine receptor (A1R, aka Adora1). Various molecules and compounds capable of inhibiting these two genes are disclosed.


Cortical plasticity, adenosine regulation, improved learning, neurological disease

Granted patents or published applications

US 10,696,972

Related scientific references

J.A. Blundon el al., "Restoring auditory cortex plasticity in adult mice by restricting thalamic adenosine signaling," Science (2017). … 1126/science.aaf4612

Read more details and description of the Science publication at:

Thalamocortical long-term potentiation becomes gated after the early critical period in the auditory cortex; J Neurosci. 2013 Apr 24;33(17):7345-57. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4500-12.2013.

Presynaptic gating of postsynaptic synaptic plasticity: a plasticity filter in the adult auditory cortex; Neuroscientist. 2013 Oct;19(5):465-78. doi: 10.1177/1073858413482983. Epub 2013 Apr 4.

Presynaptic gating of postsynaptically expressed plasticity at mature thalamocortical synapses; J Neurosci. 2011 Nov 2;31(44):16012-25. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3281-11.2011. 

Licensing Opportunities

We are currently seeking licensing opportunities in all fields for the development of this technology. If you are interested in commercially developing this invention to treat learning and memory defects and/or neurological diseases associated with an abnormal auditory, visual, or somatosensory perception; or any other use, please contact our office. Contact:

Contact the Office of Technology Licensing (Phone: 901-595-2342, Fax: 901-595-3148) for more information.