sailor girlDonepezil May Be Effective For Down’s Syndrome

(This Is dated Material)

LONDON, ENGLAND -- March 26, 1999 --

It is usually assumed that the disabilities associated with Down's syndrome are untreatable. In a research letter in this week's issue of The Lancet, Dr. Priya Kishnani and colleagues, from Duke University Medical School, Durham, N.C., report an improvement in communication, language ability and mood in four people with Down's syndrome treated with donepezil, a drug usually used to treat dementia.

Down's syndrome is caused by a disorder of chromosomes that cannot be corrected. The effects of this disorder, especially in older people with Down's syndrome, are similar to those seen in people with dementia due to Alzheimer's disease: poor communication, short attention span and changeable mood. Over the past few years, a drug that alters the way brain cells communicate with each other, donepezil, has been shown to help people with Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Kishnani and colleagues tried donepezil on four people, aged 24 to 67 years, with Down's syndrome. Beneficial effects were seen within the first three months of treatment. The researchers report that improvements in communication, expressive language, attention and mood stability were noted in all four patients.

The researchers do not claim their small study should lead to widespread use of donepezil, but conclude that, a larger randomised placebo-controlled trial of cholinergic therapy in Down's syndrome is warranted.
As reported By The Lancet


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