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New Drug May Treat Learning Disorders
Researchers are testing a medication that may help the brain overcome learning disorders.
Wednesday February 25th - 1:38pm
Toronto researchers are developing a medication that may one day help people with inherited learning disorders. According to a study released from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, published online in PLoS Biology, the way to treat learning disorders in the future may be via pills, not behavioral and learning techniques.
With learning disorders, the brain cells needed for learning are all present, says lead researcher Rod McInnes. "What's lacking is all the machinery that's required for normal communication between the neurons," he says.
In a study of mice, the researchers looked at the neural protein Neto1, which plays a crucial role in brain connections, and is responsible for the ability to recall where things are in your surroundings. The mice that had their ability to produce Neto1 removed were unable to find a hidden object in a maze, but when they were given a drug now being tested on Alzheimer's patients, they were able to locate the object.
The drug is still being tested, and it will be several years before it would be ready for use.
Many learning disorder groups are optimistic about the possibilities, but some are concerned about treating learning disabilities as medical conditions in need of a cure.
“Many learning disabilities are not medical conditions, in my opinion,” said Sue Hall, founder of The Whole Dyslexic Society. “A learning disability such as dyslexia arises because of a particular way of learning.”
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