Drugs that boost the chemical messenger norepinephrine in the brain have been shown to alleviate cognitive problems in mice engineered to mirror Down syndrome.
The findings, published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, suggest a new approach to treating the disorder.
The new findings help identify neurological impairments caused by Down syndrome, and show that drug treatments can help alleviate the effects of these impairments.
Norepinephrine is believed to help the hippocampus integrate different information, such as navigational and sensory input, says Ahmad Salehi, a scientist at Stanford and lead author on the paper.
Within a matter of hours, "there was no difference [in performance] between normal and [genetically engineered] mice after the treatment," says Salehi.