UCLA scientists use statins to overcome learning disabilities in mice
In a surprise twist that recalls the film classic "Flowers for Algernon," but adds a happy ending, UCLA scientists used statins, a popular class of cholesterol drugs, to reverse the attention deficits linked to the leading genetic cause of learning disabilities. The Nov. 8 issue of Current Biology reports the findings, which were studied in mice bred to develop the disease, called neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1).
The results proved so hopeful, that the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the drugs in three clinical trials currently under review to test the effect of statins in children and adults born with NF1. The findings could help the estimated 35 million Americans who struggle with learning disabilities.
"Learning disabilities and mental retardation each affect five percent of the world population," said Dr. Alcino Silva, professor of neurobiology, psychiatry and psychology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Currently, there are no treatment options for these people. Thats why our findings are so exciting from a clinical perspective."
Elaine Schmidt | EurekAlert!
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