A hormone has restored the sense of smell of patients with Down syndrome

Scientists have recently developed a new hormone treatment to improve the quality of life of patients with Trisomy 21. They suffer from serious health problems due to malformations congenital. These conditions characterize what is called down syndrome. This genetic anomaly most often generates difficulty swallowinga loss of smell and significant deafness.

A young girl with Down syndrome clinging to her mother's neck.

These numerous cognitive disorders make the daily lives of these people particularly difficult. the medical device developed by Swiss researchers has enabled to restore up to 10 to 30% the cognitive functions of seven people with trisomy 21.

These “promising” results offer new hope for the future millions of people with Down syndrome around the world.

GnRH to restore lost cognitive functions

The researchers demonstrated that the cognitive impairments were caused by a dysfunction of GnRH secretion. They were able to identify the five strands of microRNA regulating this production of GnRH. They then developed a GnRH-based treatment used to overcome the lack of testosterone and the puberty delays in man.

Nelly Pitteloudhead of the endocrinology department at the University Hospital of Lausanne (Switzerland), was one of the authors of this study. She said during a interview with the magazine Science that experience that they conducted was very satisfying. One treatment every two hours during six months allowed to restore certain functions lost like the sense of smell. She pointed out, however, that this experimental apparatus is not yet a cure able to heal the patients.

New hope in trisomy 21 research

The effects of this new treatment on an entire population have yet to be verified, as the clinical trial only involved seven male patients. Even if the results collected by Pitteloud and his team are not yet relevant enough, they remain very encouraging. Note that the Down syndrome is the genetic form the most frequent of intellectual disability. According the world health organizationthis genetic disease affects approximately one in 1,000 people.

The success of this hormonal treatment paves the way for research to improve patient care. Moreover, a larger study, bearing on a placebo and 50 to 60 patientsone-third of whom are women, should start in the next few months. It would allow determine how certain how GnRH therapy might help fight down syndrome.


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