Everyday People Matter

Experimental Study Finds Reversal of Down Syndrome Learning Deficits

| Dec 31, 2013 | Children

In the future, a compound that was discovered recently by researchers could be used to boost learning and memory capacities in children who suffer from Down Syndrome. The compound has been identified as part of research conducted by scientists at Johns Hopkins and the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers found that when the compound is administered to newborn mice who suffer from a Down Syndrome- like condition on the day of birth, it helped improve their learning capacities and memory abilities.

According to researchers, use of the compound, known as sonic hedgehog pathway agonist, was given to mice immediately. What the researchers were hoping the compound would do was increase the size of the cerebellum. In a normal patient who suffers from Down Syndrome, the cerebellum is just about 60% of the normal size.
However, what the researchers were not expecting was that the compound would have a positive effect on learning and memory abilities, because these abilities are generally controlled by the hippocampus area of the brain, not the cerebellum.

So far, the molecule has not been judged safe for use in human beings, but researchers are optimistic about the use of the compound for the treatment of Down Syndrome in the future. They believe that in the future, drugs containing these molecules may be administered to patients who have been diagnosed with Down Syndrome soon after birth to help eliminate many of the negative cognitive effects of the condition.

Individuals who suffer from Down Syndrome are often eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration has specific requirements in these cases, including that applicants provide a chromosomal analysis lab report for eligibility.