Monday, February 26, 2007

Drug May Treat Down Syndrome Symptoms.

Stanford University researchers might have found a drug which can help people fight the mental retardation caused by Down syndrome, according to a study published on Sunday.

An old drug once used to study epilepsy substantially improved learning and memory in mice with Down syndrome symptoms, the researchers said.

What's more, the gains lasted for months after the treatment was discontinued. The researchers are now considering a clinical trial to test whether the compound has a similar effect in humans with Down syndrome.

The finding, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, also can help scientists understand what causes the mental retardation seen in Down syndrome patients.

"This treatment has remarkable potential," said Craig Garner, a professor of psychiatry and a director of the Down Syndrome Research Center at California's Stanford University.

However, the researchers caution that the research is preliminary and it is too early to tell if the drug will be successful in people.

Down syndrome is the most frequent genetic cause of mental retardation and occurs equally around the world, in about one in every 800 births. About 5,000 children born in the United States each year have Down syndrome.

Symptoms range from moderate mental retardation to very mild disability. Many Down's patients also have health problems, especially heart trouble. (Xinhuanet)
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