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Asthma Drug Found Beneficial in Treating Mice with Down’s Syndrome

A drug, that is currently being used by thousands of Americans who use inhalers to treat their asthma symptoms, has been found to be very beneficial in helping improve memory-based learning skills in mice that suffer from Down’s Syndrome.

The bronchodilator, Formoterol is believed to affect a brain chemical that plays a very important part in memory-based learning.  The hippocampus area of the brain is responsible for contextual learning, but for this part of the brain to perform these activities properly, it needs a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine.  This chemical is supplied by another area of the brain called the locus coeruleus.  However, in persons who suffer from Down’s Syndrome, there is severe atrophy of the locus coeruleus, and as a result, all memory-based learning or contextual learning is hampered.

The researchers analyzed the effects of formoterol in mice that had been genetically altered to show symptoms of Down’s Syndrome.  They found that when the mice were administered the formoterol, it triggered the production of new neurons in the hippocampus area of the brain.  These new neurons were very strong, and the researchers found the formation of thousands of branches, that connected different areas of the brain.  When these mice were subjected to field tests, they performed much better on memory-based learning tasks.

It’s too early for a similar study to be conducted on human beings, because the amount of the drug that was administered to the mice is not safe for human use.   The researchers now need to experiment with smaller amounts of the drug to see whether the same kind of effect can be replicated.

Persons who suffer from Down’s Syndrome may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  However, in order to qualify, you must suffer from non-mosaic Down’s Syndrome, which typically involves higher disability levels.

M. Stanley Whitehead is a Houston Social Security lawyer, committed to representing persons who have had their disability claims rejected, and helping them recover the benefits that are rightfully theirs.  If you have had your Social Security claim denied, contact me for a consultation.

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