People with Down syndrome could soon have access to a treatment to improve their cognitive function, thanks to a team of researchers affiliated with the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, whose work shows great promise for those with the condition.
“In Down syndrome, pulsatile GnRH therapy is looking promising, especially as it is an existing treatment with no significant side effects,” explains study author Professor Nelly Pitteloud.
The preliminary clinical trial in humans involved seven men with Down syndrome, the most common chromosomal disorder, aged between 20 and 50. They each received an injection of GnRH – or gonadotropin-releasing hormone – every two hours for six months via a pump on the arm. Results show that cognitive functions were improved in six out of the seven people studied. Following the treatment, there were improvements in three-dimensional representations, understanding of instructions, reasoning, attention, and episodic memory. In the United States, roughly one in every 700 people is born with the condition each year, and 77% of them experience symptoms akin to those of Alzheimer’s disease, including neurodegenerative disorder. Should the therapeutic treatment be proven conclusive, it could have the potential to help not only people with Down syndrome but also patients suffering from neurodegenerative illnesses.