ADHD and Learning
Disabilities - new Treatment - new Hope
There is a promising new discovery
about a drug that helps in learning disabilities. The drug called
Lovastatin, is a commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering medicine
available today. The discovery was by Neurobiologist Alcino Silva and
colleagues at the University of California - Los Angeles and it offers
new hope for many people.
Neurofibromatosis type I (NF1) is
the condition that Lovastatin hopefully will be able to fix in the
future. This condition affects more that 1 in 3,000 people. It is
either inherited, or an isolated mutation, which is then inheritable.
NF1 symptoms cause the person developmental cognitive disabilities in up
to half who are carriers of the defective gene. It shows up as deficits
in memory, motor coordination, and spatial learning. It is also know to
cause attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The first experiment they had the
mice follow a blinking light to get the food as a reward. The NF1 mice
showed a 30% increase in their ability to complete this task when they
took the statin.
They tried another experiment with
the NF1 mice by giving the drug and these mice were able to out-perform
normal mice in spatial memory tasks. The best part of this discovery is
that the cognitive deficits with the NF1 are able to be reversed, making
it such a promising help for a NF1 affected people.
The affected person makes too much
of one type of the Ras protein and causes a clogged neural pathway.
Silva explains: “Ras needs lipids to be attached to the cell membrane
where it acts – the lipids are like anchors. Lovastatin and other
statins lower the lipids and, without anchors, Ras floats away from the
membrane and becomes ineffective.”
“We think we have a real,
fundamental reason to be optimistic," Silva says. "This is a drug that
affects a key learning and memory pathway, and completely rescues the
most common genetic cause for learning disabilities.”
Silva said that discovering this
“was the researcher’s equivalent of finding a suitcase stuffed with a
million dollars”. Lovastatin actually reversed the over-production of
Ras and repaired the cell-to-cell communication deficits, curing the
mice's learning disabilities.
Best Syndication Staff Writer
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