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Biotech Medicine Science

Drug Reverses Retardation In Mice 318

Posted by kdawson
from the give-my-regards-to-algernon dept.
snydeq writes "Rapamycin, a medication doctors prescribe to transplant patients to prevent organ rejection, has been used to reverse learning disorders and mild retardation associated with TSC (tuberous sclerosis complex) in mice. Because the condition is linked to autism, scientists believe the drug may be used to treat learning disabilities and short-term memory deficits in all kinds of autism as well. The scientists chose rapamycin after they realized the drug regulates one of the same proteins that the TSC gene does, just in different parts of the body. 'What was surprising is that we could give rapamycin to adult mice and reverse their condition,' said neurobiologist Alcino Silva of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. 'We did not know ... that this drug would be equally effective for the learning disabilities as it is for tissue rejection.' Rapamycin treatment leveled the playing field between normal and TSC mice in as little as three days."
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Drug Reverses Retardation In Mice

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  • Re:$1k per month (Score:5, Insightful)

    by east coast (590680) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:46AM (#23965765)
    1K to turn someone into a productive member of society and lead a meaningful life? It's a bargain. We're paying more than that to keep rapists alive in jails. Not to mention that as technology moves on it will either cost less or new drug will take it's place being either more effective or less expensive.
  • Re:Cool! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:48AM (#23965783)

    Your estimate is high. Only 50.7% require it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_US_presidential_election [wikipedia.org]


    Uhm, wrong. Both parties consist mostly of criminals (lobbying = corruption, even if by the book it is legal). And both parties vote against public good. The populicrats just prefer the copyright mafia, robbing taxpayers and so on.

    The few honest politicians can be found in both parties.

  • Re:$1k per month (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <[moc.loa] [ta] [yuGhceTcoHdA]> on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:55AM (#23965855) Journal
    The cost for custodial care of a moderately to severely impaired autistic adult is an order of magnitude higher. Not to mention the very guilty feeling one endures for choosing to put someone into custodial care.
  • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:02AM (#23965931) Journal

    Sadly, it won't work. Although you were joking, I uncharacteristically jumped straight to TFA on this one, as my oldest daughter's IQ measures at 65. That's about five points lower than Forest Gump, if I remember the movie correctly.

    Sadly, this treatment only fights Darwin. TFA says

    Scientists used rapamycin--a medication doctors prescribe to patients who have had transplants to prevent their bodies from rejecting the new organs--to treat learning disorders associated with a disease called tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in mice. TSC is a rare genetic disorder that causes brain tumors, seizures, learning disabilities, skin lesions and kidney tumors in the 50,000 Americans and one million people worldwide who have the disease.

    A million people might not seem rare, but consider that there are six billion people on the planet. From a link from TFA:

    What is Tuberous Sclerosis?

    Tuberous sclerosis (TSC) is a rare genetic disease that causes benign tumors to grow in the brain and on other vital organs such as the kidneys, heart, eyes, lungs, and skin. It commonly affects the central nervous system. In addition to the benign tumors that frequently occur in TSC, other common symptoms include seizures, mental retardation, behavior problems, and skin abnormalities. TSC may be present at birth, but signs of the disorder can be subtle and full symptoms may take some time to develop. Three types of brain tumors are associated with TSC: cortical tubers, which generally form on the surface of the brain; subependymal nodules, which form in the walls of the ventricles (the fluid-filled cavities of the brain); and giant-cell astrocytomas, a type of tumor that can block the flow of fluids within the brain.

    Most mental retardation is caused by injury.

    A bit offtopic, but the US public school system, bad as it is for average (IQ 100) kids, it fails miserably for both "special" and "gifted" students; my youngest's IQ is 131 and she wound up dropping out (later getting her GED and now manages a GameStop store at age 21) while the oldest graduated high school an got her diploma but lives on SSI disability.

    The US public school system is badly broken.

  • crazy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:06AM (#23965963)

    lots and lots of anti-republican comments and most of them are going to get modded way the hell up, but I bet if someone said "give this to democrats LOL" they'd get modded into oblivion

    hahhhahaha captcha is "erector"

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:13AM (#23966055)

    ...let me say that any hope is a good hope. This condition is a far, far greater burden than you probably realize, and to date most of medical science is still groping in the dark.

    My son's neurologist actually prescribed an anti-psychotic to a three-year-old boy. One that, by the way, had NEVER been tested on children and was not FDA approved for that purpose.

    There are some voodoo-science options as well. Some work all the time for certain cases, while others do not work at all. Gluten-free/Casen-free diet, Omega3's, Anti-Fungals etc, etc, etc. If you take information like this to a practicing MD they are quite likely to either roll their eyes our laugh outright. Still, there are those that swear by them.

    This is where we presently sit.

    Imagine having a young man, totally dependent on you, who is struggling not only to fit in, but to avoid punishment for perfectly natural behaviors. Now imagine the feeling when the realization sets in that you simply will not ever be able to 'fix' him, no matter how much parenting you may apply. In fact, try though you do, at the end of the day it feels like no one has helped him at all.

    Any hope is a good hope.

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@ ... Dl.com minus bsd> on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:17AM (#23966097) Homepage Journal

    Your estimate is high. Only 50.7% require it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_US_presidential_election [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org]

    I'm a Republican, a Bush and now McCain supporter, and have more troll points on slashdot to prove my right wing cred, and I don't find this offensive at all. Come on people, lighten up. This was -funny-. If I would have been first to the joke, I would have made the same crack going the other way. The more seriously we take our political affiliations, the more we are trapped into the political parties that really don't represent us!

    After all, can't we say: "Christ, Bush is such a great oil man, that he goes and invades the world's largest untapped source of oil, and now gas is $5 / gallon."

  • by Rooked_One (591287) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:17AM (#23966103) Journal
    if so... consider it for mice only. I've been waiting years for something that has proven in mice, but just "never seems to cross that gap" to humans.

    But then again, when you consider a does of medication that costs 3000 dollars, why would anyone want to cure such a profitable disorder?
  • Oh, Please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by encoderer (1060616) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:37AM (#23966349)

    Look at you. Sitting there, presumably in full control of your faculties, able to socialize, to date, to start and raise a family, to use your time as you wish, to banter back and forth on websites, or read a book, to build a career and take pride in your accomplishments, to further your education and expand your horizons.

    Do you even KNOW anybody who suffers from any of these mild-to-mid-grade mental deficiencies? And I don't mean know OF, I mean KNOW and care for?

    If you did, you'd see very clearly the tragedy that is a person who much of the time seems completely healthy and normal.

    Wouldn't it be GREAT if pharma would give these things away for free? Sure. But this world today is not perfect. And you can't expect just a single industry to "disarm" and go socialized. Even if it WOULD benefit us all.

    There's a test you can apply here: When a pharma company spends $1bn researching a drug that ends-up a flop, should we as taxpayers refund that cash to them? If the answer is "no," then you can't begrudge them for taking profits where they can.

    And as much as I hate paying $4 for gas, I could say the same about oil: I don't know about you, but 8, 9 years ago when gas was $0.85/gallon, I never decided to pay $1.50 just to help out. Oil companies collapsed and consolodated when Oil was $20/barrel and now, I can't begrudge them for taking profits where they can.

    Remember, nearly all of us are shareholders in these companies, whether directly, thru a 401k, thru a pension, thru a union, thru your local government which often invests a portion of its cash-on-hand, etc.

    So the drug costs $1k. That's the reality of it. To suggest that being a "slave to the pharma industry" is as bad as being a prisoner of your own reduced faculties shows an abject lack of understanding, not to mention, a serious empathy deficit.

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:43AM (#23966433) Homepage
    It doesn't matter how smart the electorate is when neither option is at all that good. Although on both sides, it seems be be a lot better this time around, it still seems like most of the politicians are completely corrupt.
  • Re:$1k per month (Score:3, Insightful)

    by east coast (590680) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:43AM (#23966435)
    Ok, so you're born with a condition outside of your control and someone comes up with a cure or at least an alleviation of the condition and you see yourself as a slave? Oh, sorry, the fact that you have the ability to simply comprehend the situation and respond to it (as misguided as your response may be) shows that you're not suffering like these people are.

    Being a member of a family with a severely autistic child (my nephew), I can tell you that giving up a bit of cash to the pharmaceutical industry (that paid for the R&D for the potential cure with no guarantee of success or redemption of that funding) is a small price to pay. It's strikes me not only as odd but also as how downright lunkheaded some members of society are about this. Without profit involved the pharmaceutical industry would dry up fast than a puddle in the desert. If that's what you want why not simply boycott the industry. After all, you've already taken the aloof position of not needing their cures anyway.

    I suppose you think it's better to languish in pain and suffering instead of paying your fair dues to an entity that gambled to create a remedy in the first place.
  • by VisiX (765225) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:01AM (#23966685)

    Perhaps it is not all the fault of the school system?

    I'm sure it is difficult to raise two children who are quite different in ability, but I feel like someone should point out that a number of people with an IQ of 130+ (and perhaps 65) graduate from public school and go on to do wonderful things. I would venture a guess that many people here have an IQ over 130, were incredibly bored in high school, and came through it just fine.

    I have an IQ of about 140 and got Bs in high school. My parents understood that I would not be wasting a lot of effort "learning" in high school and gave me the freedom to do other things outside of school so that I would have an outlet. These opportunities were not afforded to my older brother, who has a similar IQ, and so he dropped out of high school after failing ninth grade four times.

  • Re:Oh, Please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by InDi0 (691823) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:04AM (#23966715)

    There's a test you can apply here: When a pharma company spends $1bn researching a drug that ends-up a flop, should we as taxpayers refund that cash to them? If the answer is "no," then you can't begrudge them for taking profits where they can.

    You have, in fact, paid for that $1bn of "failed" research. You have paid it by tax money, and you have paid it by buying viagra,anti-depressants or any "lifestyle" drug for that matter. You have paid it because your government is protecting the patents of big farma, everyday, everywhere in the planet.

    Yet you still don't "get" it, and you sympathize for the money "lost" in research. Exploratory Research into new drugs can never "fail". Its exploratory, and the benefits may or may not come.

    A cure for those you love wont come from private companies, unless you tend to love people in the market segments that managers tend to love.

  • Re:Oh, Please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by InDi0 (691823) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:29AM (#23967023)

    Changing the way society performs economic relations is not something five people can gather and do. It takes a deep social change to do experiments like the one you propose.

    I'm not a naysayer of the drug. I 'm a naysayer of the process. And of the people that say "Oh will please think of billion-dollar-rich-cigar-holding-government-overthrowing Pharma CEOs?"

    Don't argue with me about. Just ponder at the fact that deseases like malaria kill millions, while Pharma is fighting poor erections. If you think that makes sense, or that this is the only way society can work, you are too pessimistic.

  • Re:Cool! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cHiphead (17854) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:49AM (#23967303)

    You are right, both parties consist of mostly criminals, but at least the Democrat pols can pretend to give a shit about people beneath them.

    Cheers.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:01AM (#23967531) Homepage Journal

    "Any hope is a good hope."
    Not really. False hope is terrible. My nephew is Autistic and the amount of total junk being tried just makes me nuts.
    In this case I am just praying that this is real hope.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:04AM (#23967603)

    "As a parent of an Autistic... who has a young man ... who is struggling not only to fit in, but to avoid punishment for perfectly natural behaviours." ... and "Any hope is a good hope "

    And as an adult who is Autistic, I've come to realize that we don't need to fit in. Some people will accept us the way we are and some people will not. I see no reason to have to change my behaviour to conform to the expectations of the ones who don't want to accept me the way I am. I see no reason to be insecure about who I am, simply as I fail to live up to the expectations of the ones who want me to behave a certain way.

    Being different isn't wrong, even though you may have heard differently.

    But what I find utterly fascinating is what you find when you ask the question, why do some people want others to fit into a certain behaviour?

    The key to understanding this question is to first learn to understand the extreme form of why some people want others to conform to a certain behaviour. Then it provides a way to see the more common, but less extreme desires of some people to get others to conform.

    The extreme form of this behaviour is the result of a personality disorder categorised as cluster B disorders. (Specifically HPD and NPD forms). Personality disorders are actually very common in society. (For example, its estimated that over 70% of people in prison have a cluster B disorder).

    In the case of HPD, they seek attention. (Its often due to lack of parental attention during childhood resulting in an on going fear and insecurity about the need for attention. (we are still pack animals, so when someone lacks the attention of their nearest family during childhood, they end up seeking the protection of the wider pack. Our society being that wider pack. So the safest place in any pack, is to be at the centre of attention in the pack. That's why they instinctively seek attention).

    When someone is relentlessly driven to seek more attention, they will often react defensively to anyone else gaining attention. They don't want others to get attention. So as autistics naturally behave differently and so naturally appear different (and so get attention by being different), this triggers a defensive reaction from the insecure attention seekers, who put down and mock anyone who gains attention over them. (Its why the whole concept of the nerd is mocked). The insecure attention seekers also achieve the goal of gaining more attention, by being the one doing the mocking put downs and insults. (Its a double win for them).

    The huge irony is that its the insecure attention seekers who have the problem. (In the case of the other forms of cluster B disorders, they often combine the HPD need for attention with other insecurities such as, fear of being seen as a coward, or fear of being seen as stupid, or fear of their unresolved sexual orientation, etc.. ... "fear" being the key word). The other forms of cluster B can be ruthlessly harmful towards others, yet they are the ones who are driven by their inner fears and insecurities. These people are not the kind of people who should be allowed to define what and how others should be seen and accepted within society. The sooner everyone learns to recognised the cluster B disorders (for their own protection from them), then the sooner the world will change, very much for the better. (Unfortunately as the cluster B disorders seek attention, they then naturally seek to define what's accepted in the media, as they seek to be in the media and so in the spotlight of attention, and so its how we have got into this unfortunate situation currently).

    As you are a parent of an Autistic, you need to learn to slightly change how you have been taught to perceive Autism. (Taught that is, by some people in society). Autistics have an intense desire to learn. They may focus on very narrow subjects and pursue it with a never ending intensity, that others cannot understand. But that doesn't actually make their intellige

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @11:20AM (#23967873)

    I think McCain is a good man with bad ideas.

    Tax cuts for the rich work *wonders* for a young economy that has lots of competing small businesses in every industry.

    Such tax cuts do *nothing* for a mature economy in which each industry is dominated by a monopoly or cartel.

    I don't have a problem with sound economic theories and proven economic policies. I have a proven with their application to an economic environment in which they have been equally proven to be ineffective.

Forty two.

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