By On March 27th, 2013

Can a Cough Syrup Ingredient Help Treat Down Syndrome?

Could cough syrup really help treat Down Syndrome patients? Researchers at Monash University seem to think so. Specifically, they believe a key ingredient in most cough syrups, called BTD-001, could help people with Down Syndrome improve their memory, language, and learning abilities.

The lead on the study, Associate Professor Bob Davis, cited BTD-001’s history as an ingredient in medicines used to treat dementia sufferers in the 1950’s and 60’s as the inspiration for the study.

He told the Christian Post, “People with dementia seemed to improve their memory and … cognitive ability, so the ability to think. At that stage the medication had been shown to be safe and while there were some small studies indicating that it seemed to work, it didn’t have the large drug trials that are required nowadays.”

Davis says that BTD-001 improves the conductivity in people’s brains, while a US research foundation discovered that people with Down Syndrome have less conductivity in their nerves. Davis believes BTD-001’s improvement in conductivity could help Down Syndrome patients’s issues.

Don’t get too excited however. According to ABC, Catherine McAlpine, head of Down Syndrome Australia, urged caution. It is far too early to tell if there is much validity to Davis’ claims, and there “are very few research project into helping people with Down Syndrome,” said McAlpine. What testing is done focuses on prenatal testing, which has its own unique issues.

McApline said, “”Clearly, if we can do things that help people with Down Syndrome be more independent, then that’s a good thing for everyone. But it can be a little bit complicated when we are talking about quality of life and increased cognition being one and the same because they’re not the same thing.”

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