This new treatment improves the cognitive abilities of people with Down syndrome

— Ermolaev Alexander /

The life of a person with Down syndrome is far from easy. Moreover, it is an incurable genetic anomaly. Fortunately, there are treatments that can help patients improve their living conditions. Moreover, scientists have discovered a new treatment to improve cognition in people with Down syndrome.

Hope for a radical improvement in the living conditions of people with Down syndrome

The Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of a full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This birth defect is usually associated with physical growth delays, mild or moderate intellectual disability and characteristic facial features. Cognition problems remain one of the biggest challenges for people with Down syndrome. Indeed, the average IQ of a young adult with Down syndrome is 50, which is equivalent to the mental capacity of an eight-year-old child.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Down syndrome. But there are a variety of support and education programs that can help people with the disease. There are also treatments to improve their overall health and living conditions. Moreover, researchers from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and the University of Lille have found a new method to improve cognition in people with Down syndrome.

According to the results of the study published in the journal Science, a new hormone treatment could improve or even reverse some of the symptoms of Down syndrome. The same treatment could also be of great help for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, according to the researchers . To reach these conclusions, the researchers first demonstrated that there was a dysfunction of the pituitary gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-secreting neurons in people with trisomy 21.

Very promising results, but which require confirmation by larger studies

Note that GnRH is a hormone produced in the brain and can affect cognitive functioning, such as memory, language and learning. GnRH also regulates the amount of testosterone and estrogen produced in the body. Thus, increased levels of GnRH help stimulate puberty. By conducting tests on mice, the researchers were then able to demonstrate that the restoration of the physiological functioning of the GnRH system made it possible to restore cognitive and olfactory functions in mice with Down syndrome.

Faced with these results, the researchers decided to conduct a pilot clinical trial with the participation of 7 men with Down syndrome aged 20 to 50 years. Participants received a subcutaneous dose of GnRH every two hours for 6 months via a pump placed on their arm. Cognitive and olfactory tests as well as MRI examinations were carried out before and after the treatment. A 10% to 30% improvement in cognitive functions was observed in 6 of the participants.

Given the very small size of this clinical trial, the researchers cautioned that these results do not indicate that the treatment is an effective remedy for cognitive impairment in people with Down syndrome. However, these results are promising enough to warrant further research and larger clinical trials, the researchers pointed out in a statement.

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