U.S. researchers said after a study that increasing the levels of a message-carrying chemical in the brain may help prevent some of the deficits of the memory in a condition called Down syndrome which hampers learning and makes it difficult for the brain to develop normally.
Mice suffering with Down syndrome were injected with drugs to increase norepinephrine levels, which is a neurotransmitter. Nerve cells utilize this to communicate and the mice displayed improvements in their thinking ability.
This finding indicates to a newer way of trying to improve some of the deficits seen in Down syndrome, affecting 5,000 newborns in the United States each year.
Dr. Ahmad Salehi of the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, whose study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine said, “If you intervene early enough, you will be able to help kids with Down syndrome to collect and modulate information.”
The cause of Down syndrome is having an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. At the time of birth, children with Down syndrome are not developmentally delayed but memory shortcomings attached to this disorder hinder normal brain development.
By giving the mice drugs that lead to higher levels of norepinephrine, the mice created nests which were on par with those of normal mice.
Some drugs which are already on the market for depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder target norepineephrine.
Salehi said that he hopes that this finding leads to new research on these drugs in people with Down syndrome.