Experimental Compound Improves Learning and Memory in Mice with Down Syndrome

Cerebellums from Down syndrome-like mice handled with a brand new compound (left), untreated mice (center) and regular mice (proper). From I. Das, J.-M. Park, et al. Hedgehog Agonist Remedy Corrects Structural and Cognitive Deficits in a Down Syndrome Mouse Mannequin. Sci. Transl. Med. 5, 201ra120 (2013). Reprinted with permission from AAAS

In a newly revealed examine, scientists element the event of an experimental compound that reverses Down syndrome-like studying deficits in mice.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the Nationwide Institutes of Well being have recognized a compound that dramatically bolsters studying and reminiscence when given to mice with a Down syndrome-like situation on the day of beginning. As they report in the Sept. 4 issue of Science Translational Medicine, the single-dose therapy seems to allow the cerebellum of the rodents’ brains to develop to a traditional measurement.

The scientists warning that use of the compound, a small molecule often called a sonic hedgehog pathway agonist, has not been confirmed secure to attempt in individuals with Down syndrome, however say their experiments maintain promise for growing medication prefer it.

“Most individuals with Down syndrome have a cerebellum that’s about 60 % of the conventional measurement,” says Roger Reeves, Ph.D., a professor in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Drugs on the Johns Hopkins College Faculty of Drugs. “We handled the Down syndrome-like mice with a compound we thought would possibly normalize the cerebellum’s progress, and it labored fantastically. What we didn’t count on have been the results on studying and reminiscence, that are usually managed by the hippocampus, not the cerebellum.”

Reeves has devoted his profession to finding out Down syndrome, a situation that happens when individuals have three, somewhat than the standard two, copies of chromosome 21. Because of this “trisomy,” individuals with Down syndrome have additional copies of the greater than 300 genes housed on that chromosome, which results in mental disabilities, distinctive facial options and typically coronary heart issues and different well being results. Because the situation entails so many genes, growing therapies for it’s a formidable problem, Reeves says.

For the present experiments, Reeves and his colleagues used mice that have been genetically engineered to have additional copies of about half of the genes discovered on human chromosome 21.

The mice have many traits much like these of individuals with Down syndrome, together with comparatively small cerebellums and problem studying and remembering how you can navigate by a well-known area. (Within the case of the mice, this was examined by monitoring how readily the animals positioned a platform whereas swimming in a so-called water maze.)

Primarily based on earlier experiments on how Down syndrome impacts mind improvement, the researchers tried supercharging a biochemical chain of occasions often called the sonic hedgehog pathway that triggers progress and improvement. They used a compound — a sonic hedgehog pathway agonist — that would do exactly that.

The compound was injected into the Down syndrome-like mice simply as soon as, on the day of beginning, whereas their cerebellums have been nonetheless growing. “We have been capable of utterly normalize progress of the cerebellum by maturity with that single injection,” Reeves says.

However the analysis group went past measuring the cerebellums, in search of modifications in conduct, too. “Making the animals, synthesizing the compound and guessing the best dose have been so troublesome and time-consuming that we needed to get as a lot information out of the experiment as we may,” Reeves says. The group examined the handled mice in opposition to untreated Down syndrome-like mice and regular mice in a wide range of methods, and discovered that the handled mice did simply in addition to the conventional ones on the water maze check.

Reeves says additional analysis is required to be taught why precisely the therapy works, as a result of their examination of sure cells in the hippocampus recognized to be concerned in studying and affected by Down syndrome appeared unchanged by the sonic hedgehog agonist therapy. One thought is that the therapy improved studying by strengthening communication between the cerebellum and the hippocampus, he says.

As for the compound’s potential to turn into a human drug, the issue, Reeves says, is that altering an necessary organic chain of occasions like sonic hedgehog would possible have many unintended results all through the physique, corresponding to elevating the danger of most cancers by triggering inappropriate progress. However now that the group has seen the potential of this technique, they may search for extra focused methods to securely harness the facility of sonic hedgehog in the cerebellum. Even when his group succeeds in growing a clinically helpful drug, nevertheless, Reeves cautions that it wouldn’t represent a “treatment” for the training and memory-related results of Down syndrome. “Down syndrome may be very complicated, and no one thinks there’s going to be a silver bullet that normalizes cognition,” he says. “A number of approaches can be wanted.”

Different authors on the paper have been Jung H. Shin of the Nationwide Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and Ishita Das, Joo-Min Park, Soo Kyeong Jeon, Hernan Lorenzi, David J. Linden and Paul F. Worley, the entire Johns Hopkins College Faculty of Drugs.

The examine was funded by the Down Syndrome Analysis and Remedy Basis, Analysis Down Syndrome, the Nationwide Institute of Youngster Well being and Human Improvement (grant quantity R01 HD38384), the intramural applications of the Nationwide Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being (grant quantity MH51106) and the Nationwide Institute of Neurological Issues and Stroke (grant quantity R01 NS39156).

Publication: Ishita Das, et al., “Hedgehog Agonist Remedy Corrects Structural and Cognitive Deficits in a Down Syndrome Mouse Mannequin,” Sci Translational Drugs, 4 September 2013: Vol. 5, Concern 201, p. 201ra120; DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3005983

Picture: I. Das, J.-M. Park, et al.

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