trisomy 21, presented at the second International Conference Jérôme Lejeune (JIJL), held 24-26th March 2011: a first human therapeutic trial demonstrated, in particular, positive effects on memory and psychomotor skills in persons suffering from Down’s syndrome. Press reviews of 21-25/03/11 and of 28-03_01-04/04/11 ).|
In 2009 Jean-Maurice Delabar’s University of Paris Diderot team demonstrated that inhibiting an additional enzyme on chromosome 21 (the enzyme Dyrk1A) improved cognitive symptoms in affected mice. The researchers discovered a natural inhibitor of this enzyme: epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a powerful antioxidant found in green tea. It is a natural substance producing no secondary effects, which can also be administered orally. Prof. Mara Dierssen’s team therefore launched a first clinical trial in Spain in 2010, financed by the Fondation Jérôme Lejeune, at Barcelona's Center for Genomic Regulation. The pilot trial was conducted on 30 patients aged 18 to 26. "Three months after start of treatment, most families had guessed if their trisomic child was receiving EGCG or a placebo, and a month of treatment seemed enough to observe positive effects on memory and psychomotor skills. This effect disappeared with the end of treatment", explains Mara Dierssen. "The encouraging results with EGCG, without any undesirable effects whatsoever, incite us to test other parameters such as dosage and treatment duration", she adds. In the long term, the beneficial effects of the treatment over the course of the illness could be even greater if begun earlier. Meanwhile, Spanish researchers are preparing to launch a vast international study in dozens of hospitals centres.
Thanks to advances in research, specialists say that soon the condition of those suffering from the illness could be somewhat improved. "This was unthinkable 10 years ago", exults Dr. Henri Bléhaut, scientific board member and organizer of the International Conference Jérôme Lejeune; the conference is devoted to research on genetic intellectual disabilities and is also the world's leading professional gathering on Down's syndrome research.
Other approaches were also presented at this second JIJL, demonstrating encouraging results in animals and targeting more specifically memory and learning deficits in persons with Down’s syndrome. Substances such as memantine or fluoxetine, already available over the counter for animal use, could be tested soon on humans. Although not entirely free of secondary effects, they too offer hope in reducing intellectual deficiency in trisomic persons.
Le Figaro (Pierre Kaldy) 05/04/11ac