NSI-189 – Effective in Stimulating New Neuron Stem Cells


NSI-189 is the company code given to an experimental and research compound developed by Neuralstem, Inc. This compound, which has a chemical nomenclature of (4-benzylpiperazin-1-yl)-[2-(3-methylbutylamino)pyridin-3-yl]methanone, is a type of cognitive enhancer derived from pyrazine and nicotinamide.

In early studies, NSI-189 exhibited the ability to stimulate the growth of new neural stem cells both in vitro and in vivo. This experimental chemical was apparently very effective that the US Defense Advanced Programs Research Agency (DARPA) have invested heavily on its research for military applications. The National institutes of Health have likewise poured in funds for the study of this compound.

More studies and research into the properties and potential for medical applications continue for NSI-189. Neuralstem has recently concluded the FDA approved Phase 1b trials on NSI-189 to assess the safety and toxicity of the compound. The study was completed rather with all the 41 human volunteers showing no ill-effects from regular administration of NSI-189. The company has recently been granted permission by the FDA to proceed with the Phase 1b trials for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).


Neuralstem was incorporated in 1997 and its focus has remained in the field of neuroscience ever since. NSI-189 is its flagship product and it is also undergoing FDA approved clinical trials for Lou Gherig’s disease. The company also has ongoing research for the cell therapy and drug treatments for neurological conditions such as ischemic stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, neurodegeneration due to aging, traumatic brain injury, and cerebral palsy.

The ability of NSI-189 to stimulate the growth of new neurons has a lot of medical implications. Apart from its potential to treat some of the neurological conditions already mentioned, NSI-189 may also be able to treat post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which probably explains why the DARPA is very interested in its research.

NSI-189 was observed in the studies funded by the DARPA and NIH to have the ability to stimulate the growth of neural stem cells in the hippocampus. This part of the brain is thought to be responsible for the memory retention and recall, both for long term and short term memory. It can also be said that that NSI-189 has the ability to grow the brain, as shown in some studies on healthy mice. After the administration of NSI-189 for a predetermined period, the adult mice exhibited a 20% increase in hippocampal volume.

Although none of the current studies on NSI-189 focuses on its cognitive enhancing abilities, it will be reasonable to assume that the growth of more neural stem cells will also translate to enhanced cognitive abilities. A report on their website do indicate that a study is being done in order to measure the cognitive scores in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease and also a promise to proceed with Phase II of the testing of NSI-189 on cognitive impairment.  The Neurostem website made it clear though that NSI-189 will not make an individual more intelligent, but rather claimed that NSI-189 will increase an individual’s ability to learn and solve complex tasks.

It is important to note that most if not all of the studies on NSI-189 are all conducted by Neurostem and there is an undeniable marketing effort done from the side of the company. This makes it hard not to have a few misgivings about the results of the studies being unselfishly shared by Neurostem. In the absence of third party testers from reputable institutions, it will be wise not trust the studies fully for the meantime.


  1. It is very effective in stimulating the growth of new neuron stem cells.
  2. It can be the next most important nootropic agent.
  3. Its ability to grow neurons will go well with racetams for cognitive enhancement, particularly coluracetam.
  4. It has a lot of potential medical applications.


  1. Some of the studies appear to be just marketing hype.
  2. The company obviously is spending serious money for marketing hype.
  3. It might turn out to be a dud.

NSI-189 obviously has a long way to go in terms of research and testing. Until these stages are completed, one can only daydream about becoming a rocket scientist with it.

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