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The researchers used mice that had been genetically altered to exhibit the symptoms of Down syndrome. Formotorel was found to increase nerve transmitters in the hippocamus, an area of the brain responsible for "spatial navigation, paying attention and forming new memories and improved contextual learning". These areas are impaired in people with Down syndrome.
Notably, the dosage of formoterel was higher and than the recommended safe dosage for humans. The study's senior author,Dr. Ahmad Salehi, a Stanford University neurobiologist, cautioned that the experiment was just a “proof of concept. Before even considering human trials, researchers will have to reduce that dosage and see if its positive effects remain. Still, the path to prescription could be shorter because of the drug’s approval for other uses," according to Salehi.
“Making a drug in a lab and taking it into a treatment for people, these days, is going to cost $1 billion and at least something like 10 years,” Salehi said. “Being approved doesn't mean it’s a great drug, but at least it’s been studied much more thoroughly compared with other drugs that we have in the lab.”
The study is published in Biological Psychiatry.
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