AsianScientist (Mar. 27, 2013) – Researchers say that a common ingredient in cough syrup could significantly improve the quality of life of people with Down syndrome, which affects six million worldwide.
In the first clinical trial of its kind, researchers at Monash University in Australia are investigating the potential of the ingredient, a drug known as BTD-001, to improve memory, language, and learning in people with Down syndrome.
Discovered in the 1920s, BTD-001 has been used as a respiratory stimulant to treat a wide variety of conditions, including dementia, and in some parts of the world is still used in cough syrup for children. The clinical study is based on research performed at Stanford University, which first revealed the drug’s potential.
Associate Professor Bob Davis, Director of the Center for Developmental Disability Health Victoria and principal investigator of the Monash study, said that the early scientific evidence was promising.
“Although it’s too soon to draw any conclusions, we’re hopeful this trial and the continued development of the drug could lead to a product that can improve the cognitive abilities, and ultimately the quality of life of people with Down syndrome,” he said.
The Australian trial will test a new lower dose formulation of the drug. Davis and his team hope to recruit people with Down syndrome aged between 13 and 35 from Adelaide, Brisbane, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Wollongong.
“With further development, we hope this could provide a path to improving some of the difficulties those living with Down syndrome may have, such as the ability to learn at school, to become self reliant, to get a job or to manage their own finances,” said Davis.
“To date management has tended to focus on treating the physical complications of Down syndrome, but we now have a better understanding of the science underlying how Down syndrome impacts brain function to cause cognitive disability.”
Source: Monash University; Photo: watashiwani/Flickr/CC.
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