Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Drug can improve memory in patients with Down syndrome, researchers say

from the Denver Post by Michael Booth:

A long-anticipated CU study claims an Alzheimer's drug can boost memory function in Down syndrome patients, researchers announced Tuesday.

CU School of Medicine researchers said the drug memantine improved "visual episodic memory," such as retaining long lists of vocabulary words, in Down syndrome patients. The 16-week course compared the results to a control group taking only a placebo.

The study did not find improvement in two other areas of thinking, adaptive or most areas of cognitive ability.

Researchers, led by Dr. Alberto Costa, also said they must expand the study to more subjects to solidify their results, as the CU study focused on about 38 adolescents and young adults.

CU called it a major milestone.

"People who took the medicine and memorized long lists of words did significantly better than those who took the placebo," said Costa, who is a neuroscientist. "This is a first step in a longer quest to see how we can improve the quality of life for those with Down syndrome."

The Down syndrome community has been talking about Costa's research and similar efforts for years, at the same time major advances have been made in prenatal testing for the condition.

Private companies recently released a test that allows mothers to find out much earlier in their pregnancy if their child has Down syndrome. That has led families and ethicists to worry that many more people will choose abortion.

Researchers doing work to improve the cognition and condition of children born with Down syndrome have said their funding has diminished, as people assumed far fewer cases would survive to term.

Read more: Drug can improve memory in Down syndrome patients, researchers say - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_21094038/drug-can-improve-memory-down-syndrome-patients-researchers#ixzz20uCgeUeV

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