Medicine against Down syndrome

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Lab mice with the mental retardation of Down syndrome got smarter after being fed a drug that strengthened brain circuits involved in learning and memory, researchers reported Sunday.

After receiving once-daily doses of pentylenetetrazole, or PTZ, for 17 days, the mice could recognize objects and navigate mazes as well as normal mice did, researchers said. The improvements lasted up to two months after the drug was discontinued, according to the report in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

"These mice are essentially restored to normal, which I haven't seen before," said David Patterson, a Down syndrome researcher at the University of Denver, who was not involved in the study. "And the treatment seems to be long-lasting, which is a pretty surprising observation all by itself."

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They also report that normal mice don't get smarter from the drug.
Looks like there is hope for people with mental disabilities.
 
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  • #2
Moonbear
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The site you've linked to requires a registration to view the news story. Nothing in the quoted section is helping me find the original article they are referring to. I've looked through the recent issues of Nature Neuroscience, including the advanced publication articles, and don't see anything that resembles what this story is talking about. Can you provide 1) the date of the story you've cited (this will help me figure out how old the story is to find the appropriate issue of Nature Neuroscience), and 2) the names of any of the actual authors of the study that the article mentions.

This sounds very interesting and I'd like to be able to locate the original journal article rather than just read a news story about it (and don't want to give my email address to register to read a news story).
 
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Moonbear
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Thanks. The first link is the original article, so that's what I needed.

It is an interesting article, though caution should be applied in what this means. They tested only one type of learning/memory using a novel object recognition task. One would also have to be cautious about what else a GABA-A antagonist would affect in addition to learning/memory, because it is such a globally used neurotransmitter. So, in contrast to the impression one could get from the quote in the opening post, they don't really talk about the mice being restored completely to normal, they just talk about correction of deficits in one area. This is still a very interesting article and significant finding, because it at least provides an avenue for better studying the mechanism of these cognitive impairments as well as opens up a direction to explore other aspects of learning and memory tasks in Down Syndrome. So, while one shouldn't get their hopes up prematurely that one of the drugs in this study will soon be used to treat people with Down Syndrome, it certainly gives more direction for studies that might result in a treatment for some of the cognitive problems involved in the syndrome.
 
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