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Thursday November 19, 14:42

Down syndrome: a new hope

Trisomy 21 is a genetic defect caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21
Trisomy 21 is a genetic defect caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21

Encouraging research on mice could potentially lead to developing a treatment to improve the mental functioning of children with Down syndrome, according to a study released Wednesday.

At birth these children are mentally retarded. Cognitive problems increase with age because of memory deficits associated with trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome.

This inability to remember hinders learning because the brain had the greatest difficulty in memorizing experiences for normal cognitive development, say the researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Their work, published in the medical journal Translational Medicine Science, sheds light on the neural mechanism responsible for memory dysfunction and proposes a new strategy to correct the effects of this problem with medicines.

The research on mice genetically amended to make them similar to children with Down syndrome, showed for the first time that stimulating the production of norepinephrine improved their mental abilities.

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that allows nerve cells to communicate.

"If we intervene early enough, it might help children with Down syndrome to remember and use information," said Dr. Ahmad Salehi, the lead author of the study.

Theoretically, this could lead to an improvement in their mental functions.

Trisomy 21 is a genetic defect caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21.


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