Stanford University School of Medicine News Release: Drug improves cognitive function in mouse model of Down syndrome

RDS has been sharing progress from the laboratory of Dr. Ahmed Salehi, an RDS grantee.

Now, a recently published news release describes how the existing FDA-approved asthma medication, formoterol, improved cognitive function in a mouse model of Down syndrome, through improved contextual learning. Strengthened nerve connections in the hippocampus are cited.

The laboratory's research has indicated that increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine(NE), using mouse models, could significantly improve cognitive function. RDS grants have supported studies investigating the potential for lower doses of L-DOPs, a precursor to NE, in combination with Atomoxetine(ATMX), an approved NE-reuptake inhibitor, to improve learning and memory in the Down syndrome mouse model. 

The news release notes that "Further tests will be needed to determine whether formoterol might be an appropriate treatment for people with Down syndrome or whether to use another drug that activates the same receptors… The dose used in this study was many times higher than that used for asthma treatment, he cautioned, so it is not known whether it is safe. A lower dose might work, or other drugs that affect beta-2 adrenergic receptors might be safer and more effective in humans. Researchers also want to explore what parts of learning — taking in new information, remembering it or both — are affected by the drug treatment…"

Additional information on this research breakthrough may be found in the LA Times article.