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A new pill may help with memory development for people with Down syndrome

Currently, there are more than 400,000 people in the United States that have Down syndrome, and roughly 5,000 newborns are diagnosed with the disorder every year, according to the National Down Syndrome Society. Education has long posed one of the greatest challenges for people with this condition, because, as doctors Sue Buckley and GIllian Bird explained to Down Syndrome Education Online, they don't have the same capacity to store the sounds of words and link them to specific objects.

However, a recent study conducted at the University of Colorado has produced some exciting news for this community. The Washington Post reports that researchers at the university administered a pill called Namenda to a group of young adults diagnosed with Down syndrome. After 16 weeks of treatment, neuroscientist Alberto Costa and his associates had the subjects take a series of 14 tests that evaluated their ability to retain verbal memories.

Researchers expressed optimism that memantine, one of the chemical agents in Namenda, would potentially enhance the episodic and spatial memory of people with Down syndrome because it has been shown to boost activity in the hippocampus, which plays a large part in those functions.

Although the individuals who took the pill only showed substantial gains on one of the tests administered, the source reports that it is the first time that any such improvement has been seen. 

"You can see it as a little study that had a little tiny effect, or as one of the greatest findings in Down syndrome over the past 10 years," Costa told the source. "Both are true.”

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