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Fasoracetam: What We Know So Far (Potential Uses, Mechanisms, and Side Effects)

Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Reviewed by Biljana Novkovic, PhD | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Matt Carland
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology), Matt Carland, PhD (Neuroscience) | Written by Puya Yazdi, MD | Reviewed by Biljana Novkovic, PhD | Last updated:

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Fasoracetam is a drug that has been claimed to enhance cognitive function and improve mood. While initial animal research has reported promising results, the science is in an early stage, and only limited data is available about its potential effects in human users. So what does the science currently say about this interesting drug? Read on to learn more about the possible uses, mechanisms, and side-effects of fasoracetam!

Disclaimer: This post is not a recommendation or endorsement for the use of fasoracetam. The FDA has not approved this drug for any specific medical or other use, and the available research on it is still in a very early stage, without adequate data to come to any conclusions about its general efficacy or safety in humans. We have written this post for informational purposes only, and our goal is solely to inform people about what science currently says about fasoracetam’s mechanisms, potential effects, and possible side-effects.

What is Fasoracetam?

Fasoracetam – also sometimes known as NS-105, LAM-105, and NFC-1 – is a purported “nootropic” (a “cognitive enhancer” or “smart drug”) that belongs to the racetam family of drugs.

It was first developed in the early 1990s by the Japanese pharmaceutical company Nippon Shinyaku, with the intention of treating vascular dementia. The company spent over $200 million developing fasoracetam: however, the drug failed to make it past phase 3 clinical trials due to a lack of efficacy, and was eventually abandoned.

In 2013, interest in fasoracetam was revived when a company called NeuroFix purchased the clinical data for the drug from Nippon Shinyaku. NeuroFix was later acquired by Aevi Genomic Medicine, which began clinical trials in 2016 in adolescents with ADHD, autism, or anxiety, who have mutations in the glutamate receptor gene. Fasoracetam is currently in phase 2 clinical trials [1, 2, 3].

However, this also means that fasoracetam has not yet been approved by the FDA for any specific medical use.

Additionally, the fact that it is a relatively new substance means that it has not been extensively studied, and as such, it is not possible to make any firm conclusions about how effective or safe it may be – at least, not without a lot more research, including clinical trials in human users.

In this post, we will review some of the current evidence about fasoracetam’s mechanisms and purported effects. Nonetheless, as you read on, it’s important to keep in mind that all of this evidence is still in a very early stage, and any claims about this compound’s effects should, therefore, be taken with a healthy grain of salt!

Mechanism of Action

Like all racetams, the mechanism of action of fasoracetam is not fully understood.

However, some early research work has pointed towards a few of the following potential mechanisms:

  • Fasoracetam may increases the release of acetylcholine from the cerebral cortex, according to one study in rats. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in the brain is responsible for memory and learning. This animal study also reported an increase in the uptake of choline, a nutrient (“metabolic precursor”) needed to create acetylcholine throughout the brain [4].
  • According to one cell study, fasoracetam has been reported to potentially increase the number of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the cortex [5].
  • Fasoracetam has also been reported to activate certain types of glutamate receptors (metabotropic glutamate receptors, or “mGluRs”). Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter, and mGluRs have many functions throughout the brain [6].

Reported Effects of Fasoracetam

Listed below are some of the potential effects of fasoracetam that have been reported by preliminary studies so far.

While some of these early results might seem promising, the evidence is still too weak as a whole to come to any definitive conclusions about fasoracetam’s effects on the brain or cognitive ability.

In other words, these purported uses of fasoracetam should be considered as currently having insufficient evidence to support them – and much more research will still be needed to figure out exactly what effects this substance might have in healthy human users.

1) May Prevent Memory Loss

According to one animal study, fasoracetam was reported to prevent memory problems caused by baclofen (a GABA-B receptor activator) in rats. It also reportedly reduced amnesia, possibly by increasing acetylcholine and reducing the effects of GABA-B activation [4].

2) May Reduce Symptoms of Depression

Abnormal GABA levels have been associated with certain psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression. According to one animal study, fasoracetam reduced depression symptoms in rats that were conditioned to feel helpless to avoid negative situations (learned helplessness) [7, 8].

Side Effects

Like any drug, fasoracetam has the potential to cause adverse side-effects.

Importantly, because this compound is relatively new, there is not much evidence about how safe it is for human users, or how frequently it might lead to negative side-effects.

For this reason, we would strongly advise against experimenting with this compound until more data about its safety is available.

Some of the negative side-effects of fasoracetam that have been reported so far include headache and fatigue [9].

Particularly large doses of fasoracetam (>1,000 mg/day) may cause bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate is slowed down below 60 beats per minute [9].

Drug Interactions

Just as data about fasoracetam’s safety is relatively lacking, so too is hard data about how it might interact with other drugs and substances – so caution is advised.

As always, it is extremely important to keep your doctor informed about any supplements or other substances you are taking in order to further minimize the risk of experiencing any adverse interactions.

Phenibut is a compound that activates GABA receptors and is used to reduce anxiety and improve cognitive function. Fasoracetam may increase the response to phenibut by increasing the amount of GABA-B receptors and decreasing tolerance to phenibut [9].

Dosage

Note: The information in this section contains information about the dosages commonly used by some of the early studies that have been done on phenylpiracetam so far, or the “typical” doses reportedly used by people who are experimenting with personal use of this compound. The information below is not intended as a guide for personal use of fasoracetam, as adequate data about its potency, safety, or overall effects in healthy human populations is not currently available.

In one clinical study (double-blind randomized controlled trial) in children with ADHD, fasoracetam was used at doses of 100, 200, and 400mg, taken orally twice a day [3].

Anecdotally, some users have reported “effective” doses between 100 and 800mg daily. Fasoracetam can also be taken sublingually (under the tongue) in a dose range between 5 mg and 15 mg daily. Given the very large differences in the range of doses that have been reported by nootropics users, it’s difficult to make any firm conclusions about what dose size is effective.

Like many other drugs in the racetam family, some people recommend supplementing with a source of choline in order to compensate for the increased utilization of acetylcholine that these drugs may cause [10].

This drug is mainly removed by the kidneys. Elderly people may clear the drug less efficiently and can achieve higher blood levels with lower doses compared to younger subjects, so age is probably a major factor that can influence the exact effects this drug might have in any given individual [11].

Limitations and Caveats

As we have stressed throughout this post, the available scientific information on this compound is still at a very early stage, and all the findings should be treated as strictly preliminary until much more research work is done in human populations.

Since fasoracetam has not been approved by the FDA and none of the benefits have been confirmed in human trials, caution is warranted in applying this research for use in humans.

Additionally, clinical studies on phenylpiracetam’s effects are limited, and few studies have investigated its safety, or its potential interactions with other drugs and supplements.

About the Author

Puya Yazdi

Puya Yazdi

MD
Dr. Puya Yazdi is a physician-scientist with 14+ years of experience in clinical medicine, life sciences, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals.
As a physician-scientist with expertise in genomics, biotechnology, and nutraceuticals, he has made it his mission to bring precision medicine to the bedside and help transform healthcare in the 21st century.He received his undergraduate education at the University of California at Irvine, a Medical Doctorate from the University of Southern California, and was a Resident Physician at Stanford University. He then proceeded to serve as a Clinical Fellow of The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine at The University of California at Irvine, where he conducted research of stem cells, epigenetics, and genomics. He was also a Medical Director for Cyvex Nutrition before serving as president of Systomic Health, a biotechnology consulting agency, where he served as an expert on genomics and other high-throughput technologies. His previous clients include Allergan, Caladrius Biosciences, and Omega Protein. He has a history of peer-reviewed publications, intellectual property discoveries (patents, etc.), clinical trial design, and a thorough knowledge of the regulatory landscape in biotechnology.He is leading our entire scientific and medical team in order to ensure accuracy and scientific validity of our content and products.

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