Drug may reverse Down's cognitive deficit

Cognitive deficits in adult patients with Down's syndrome could be reversed by treatment targeting the noradrenaline system, a US study has suggested.

It found that administration of a pro-noradrenaline drug, called L-DOPS, reversed behavioural signs of learning deficits in a mouse model of the condition.

The drug was tested in mice with three copies of mouse chromosome 16. These mice have contextual learning defects thought to mimic those seen in people with Down's syndrome.

Mice given the drug were found to perform equivalently well to a group of control mice without the chromosomal disorder on a nest-building task designed to test their contextual learning ability.

The researchers concluded that drug treatment to enhance noradrenaline transmission could be used to improve learning and memory in patients with Down's syndrome.

Lead researcher Dr William Mobley, chair of the department of neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine said: 'Giving the pro-noradrenaline drug to the mice rescued cognitive behaviours in a dramatic way.

'The possibility is very real that such a therapy, if proven safe, would be effective in treating dementia in later-stage Down's syndrome patients.'

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