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New Research Offers Treatment For Down Syndrome!

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:19pm

Similar to the work that they are doing at Stanford , more success for Down Syndrome! Here is an article that came out yesterday!

DENVER (Aug. 20, 2007) - Researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver and

Health Sciences Center (UCDHSC) may have found a way to reverse the learning deficit

associated with Down syndrome. The findings could potentially lead to a new therapy to

increase the learning capacity of children and adults born with the genetic disorder. The

findings are published in the Aug. 15 advance online edition of

Neuropsychopharmacology, a publication of the Nature Publishing Group.

The UCDHSC research tested the effectiveness of memantine, an FDA-approved drug

already being used to treat patients with Alzheimer's disease. When the drug was used on

mice with an animal model of Down syndrome, researchers found the mice to have better

memory retention. This authors note this "is the first instance in which acute injection of a

drug agent has improved the behavioral performance of Down syndrome mice in a test of

learning and memory," and that the findings are promising from a therapeutical


The study was conducted using a chamber to measure the learning retention of mice with

Down syndrome against healthy control mice. Once inside the chamber, the mice were

exposed to a brief and mild electric stimulus carefully designed to produce an unpleasant

feeling without causing harm.

"When run through this type of experiment, typical control mice generally are able to

associate being in the chamber with the unpleasant stimulus," said Alberto Costa, MD,

PhD, associate professor of medicine and neuroscience at UCDHSC's School of Medicine

and lead author of the study. "After being exposed to the stimulus, the control mice would

experience freezing behavior when they were put back into the chamber 24 hours later.

The mice with Down syndrome were not able to recall the stimulus at all. Instead, they

would stroll around the chamber the same way as mice that had never been exposed to it."

After administering just two doses of the drug memantine, the study found that the mice

with Down syndrome displayed a statistically indistinguishable amount of freezing

behavior, much like the behavior observed in the control mice.

The first dose of memantine was given 15 minutes before the mice were exposed to the

stimulus for the first time and the second dose was given to the mice 24 hours later, 15

minutes before they were put back in the chamber.

"In a separate set of experiments, the research team found that the most important dose

of memantine seems to be the one taken before the animals are first exposed to the

stimulus inside the chamber, which argues for a more important role of the drug on

memory formation, as opposed to memory retrieval," said Costa.

Costa, also the parent of a 12-year-old child with Down syndrome, hopes to receive

institutional review board approval to lead a team of physicians and psychologists in

Denver in a pilot, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial in which they will attempt

to translate the knowledge acquired from this research into a potential therapy for the

cognitive deficits associated with Down syndrome.

"After 11 years working in the field of Down syndrome, I feel fortunate to finally be in a

position of being able to use scientific research to try to help improve the quality of the

life of people who share the same genetic disorder as my daughter," he said.

This Down syndrome research was funded by the Anna & John J. Sie Foundation, the

Coleman Institute for Developmental Disabilities, the Mile High Down Syndrome

Association, the Colorado Springs Down Syndrome Association,
and the National Institutes

of Health.

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