Potential of Ampakine CX-717 as a Cognitive Enhancer


CX-717 is the company code given to the ampakine developed by Cortex Pharmaceuticals. It is the most recent and perhaps the most promising of all the ampakines developed by the pharmaceutical company. The cx-717 is the fourth ampakine to come from Cortex after cx-516, cx-546, and cx-614. This ampakine has so far shown very strong potential as a cognitive enhancer. This new ampakine from Cortex has sparked interest among experienced nootropic users, and there have been unsubstantiated reports that some were able to synthesize it in their makeshift labs and have been selling versions of cx-717 online.

Cortex Pharmaceuticals has been trying to get approval for the Phase II testing of cx-717 from the USFDA. In 2005, the FDA gave Cortex permission to proceed with the testing of cx-717 as a means to manage and treat ADHD, some sleeping disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease. Testing was halted by the FDA in 2007. The FDA issued permit and halted the testing several more times until Cortex finally decided to stop with any more tests with cx-717 for neurological and psychological conditions.

CX 717The initial research on cx-717 was funded partially by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to explore the ampakine’s potential for military applications such as relief from fatigue due to sleeplessness. It is for this same reason why conspiracy theories abound with regards to the FDA’s refusal to allow Cortex Pharmaceutical to proceed with Phase IIb of testing cx-717. The FDA’s official reason for disallowing the Phase IIb of cx-717 testing is that the agency believes that the ampakine is toxic.

Researchers Christopher Marrs and Gary Rogers are credited with the creation of cx-717 in 1996 in Cortex Pharmaceutical laboratories. Cortex is a well-known pharmaceutical entity that has been deeply involved in the development of ampakines for the treatment of various neurological and psychological conditions. The company has likewise in the past have collaborated with established multi-national pharmaceutical companies such as Shire and Servier.

Much like its predecessors, cx-717 showed a very strong potential in its early clinical trials with laboratory animals. Early clinical studies suggested that cx-717 can significantly improve memory and a host of other cognitive functions. Based on early tests, it would also seem as though cx-717 has solved the problems plaguing its predecessors such as poor oral bioavailability, short half-lives, and less than desirable potency. As the early tests have shown, cx-717 seems to have decent bioavailability (with 800mg doses), lasts in the system much longer, and are significantly more potent that any of the previously developed CX’s.

In addition to its cognitive enhancing properties, cx-717 has also shown the ability to reverse respiratory stress and depression, which are often caused by opioids analgesics and barbiturates. A study on this ability of cx-717 has been approved and is still in progress in Germany.

Despite the potential of cx-717 as a cognitive enhancer for the treatment of neurological and psychological conditions, the FDA issue seems to halt any progress in this direction for the moment. The study sponsored by the DARPA also seems to conclude that cx-717 does not have the ability to increase alertness and improve mental performance in sleep deprived individuals. Although some may contend that the findings flawed, the results of the studies stand.


  1. It shows promise as a cognitive enhancer.
  2. It shows promise as a treatment for a variety of neurological and psychological disorders.
  3. It is an improvement from the three previous CX’s from Cortex.
  4. It shows potential as a treatment and management for respiratory depression induced by opiate based painkillers.


  1. It has limited human trials.
  2. It may not actually work as indicated by one study.
  3. The FDA may be right in saying that it is toxic and unsafe.
  4. Its supply is limited.

While it trying out a unique and controversial cognitive enhancer such as the cx-717 may seem seductively appealing to some nootropic users, it may actually turn out to be a dud, much like the earlier CX-es. If you want an effective ampakine that is both potent and safe, look in the direction of sunifiram and unifiram.

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