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Biotech Medicine Science

Drug Reverses Retardation In Mice 318

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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  • flowers for algernon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:34AM (#23965617) Homepage Journal

    make sure it doesn't wear off after a little while

  • Cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) * on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:37AM (#23965653) Homepage Journal

    Great!!! Now how can we get this drug out to 80% of the population quickly enough?

    • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Funny)

      by lena_10326 ( 1100441 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:39AM (#23965697) Homepage

      Great!!! Now how can we get this drug out to 80% of the population quickly enough?

      Your estimate is high. Only 50.7% require it.

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

    • I was going to suggest that we put it in the water coolers in the House of Representatives and the Senate, for BOTH sides of the aisle.

      • I was going to suggest that we put it in the water coolers in the House of Representatives and the Senate, for BOTH sides of the aisle.

        Just be sure there's still some left to send to Fox network.

      • by sorak ( 246725 )

        I was going to suggest that we put it in the water coolers in the House of Representatives and the Senate, for BOTH sides of the aisle.

        Then they'd realize what they've been doing these past several years and commit mass suicide. What are you, some kind of terrorist?

    • 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.

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        Tell your kid to reach higher than they are already doing. I have an IQ of 130 myself and I barely got my high school diploma and I didn't continue with college or university because I went to their "open enrollment" before and I thought the subjects were a bit too simple for me (I've apparently read through some of the textbooks they showed me on my own when I was in 10th grade).

        So I just started my career as a tech support, built up, now I'm an Systems Analyst/Programmer in a University managing the IT fo

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sm62704 ( 957197 )

          She's planning on college with a major in music. That's my fault, I'm afraid; I play guitar. When the kids were little I'd start playing and they'd run into the room I was in and plop down on the floor making requests. "Play the one about our eyes!"

          See, I'd change the lyrics so that the songs were about them. Leila (the oldest) has always been terrified of storms. She had the uncanny ability to predict the weather. If it was going to rain, she would know when to within twenty minutes. I have no idea how she

      • by dbcad7 ( 771464 )

        (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.

        Sometimes it takes some life experience (a job) for someone to better appreciate school.. perhaps she may still go to college.. I also knew someone who was on SSI for some mental health issues, and her life was not exactly easy.. it takes quite a bit of work to keep those benefits. It's a depressing existence (and depression was one of the things she was

      • by hellfire ( 86129 )

        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.

        This is getting further off topic, and this isn't a flame, but I'm genuinely curious. I have an IQ of 131, finished high school, finished college, and have a decent job. Those with an IQ of 131 are not typically candidates for dropping out of high school. I've always looked at schools currently as fai

      • Sadly, this treatment only fights Darwin.

        We have been fighting Darwin for quite some time. Note the sub-replacement fertility [wikipedia.org] in industrialized nations.

        There have been a number of explanations for the general decline in fertility rates in much of the world, and the true explanation is almost certainly a combination of different factors. The growth of wealth and human development are undoubtedly related to this phenomenon.

      • 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 t

      • by Hatta ( 162192 )

        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)

        Can I have her number?

      • now manages a GameStop

        Does she know when the new Battletoads is being released for the Wii?

    • Re:Cool! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Thelasko ( 1196535 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:12AM (#23966049) Journal

      Great!!! Now how can we get this drug out to 80% of the population quickly enough?

      Put it in expensive bottled water.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Maybe we should just put it in the beer at the next NASCAR race.
      • Maybe we should just put it in the beer at the next NASCAR race.

        I'd love to see the attendance delta after that one.

        • by k_187 ( 61692 )
          You realize that there are more college educated NASCAR fans than un-high school educated ones, right?
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
            Actually, the survey that concluded this is skewed. They failed to adjust for the large number of uneducated NASCAR fans who, when surveyed, responded with "Fuck your survey, college boy!"
    • Before you do, ask yourself... do you really want to give away your only advantage?

  • by MaliciousSmurf ( 960366 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:37AM (#23965669)
    "There are, however, the expected side effects from a drug that suppresses the immune system: impaired wound healing, infections, mouth sores and, in rare instances, skin cancer." (and every cowboy sings a sad sad song.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      There is a way, using current technology, to cure Type 1 Diabetes: an islet cell transplant [wikipedia.org]. The reason every Diabetic in the world isn't getting it, though, is that having to take antirejection drugs is worse than simply using insulin therapy for most people. I am curious to know how the benefits outweigh the risks in this case.
    • It's not that bad! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by timster ( 32400 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:17AM (#23966091)

      I've been taking this drug for years. I'll tell ya, having three or four mouth sores at all times helps you lose weight! And when you can't come to work for a month because of a raging... common cold, your idiot boss totally understands!

      Sigh... luckily, these days, I'm on a lower dosage (and with a different boss).

  • by gijoel ( 628142 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:38AM (#23965681)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:41AM (#23965719)

    Jack needs to be volunteered to be the first human test subject. If it can cure him, it'll cure anyone.

  • $1k per month (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dougmeister ( 829273 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:43AM (#23965729) Journal
    "Rapamycin costs about $1,000 per month" For the rest of your life. Wow. I guess that's still a price that someone would be willing to pay if it would benefit them.
    • 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.
      • by sm62704 ( 957197 )

        For someone making the Federal minimum wage in the US, his earnings would almost pay for this drug.

        You're not going to get a middle class job with the rare genetic disorder this drug treats.

        • Not initially, no. These people are going to have to depend on the good will of others or maybe help from their insurance or Medicare. But as time goes by the cure will likely cost less and become more effective. This is the trend for nearly all medications. So the early adopter expense will be high, there will hopefully be continued R&D and maybe in a few decades the cure for this will be as common and at the same price of some fairly normal vaccinations.

          It's not a perfect solution. No solution is and
    • Re:$1k per month (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FurtiveGlancer ( 1274746 ) <AdHocTechGuy@@@aol...com> 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.
  • Having studied the autistic spectrum to some degree, this provides hope for only a few of the range of autistic symptoms. To learn more, check out Autism Speaks [autismspeaks.org].
    • Today's belated visit [autismspeaks.org] shows an increase over their previously published statistic.
      • Wow those numbers are high. 1 in 150 is a very large percentage of the population. Is it being over diagnosed? Or are there a lot of cases in which the child is only mildly affected. there is quite a range of how it can affect the child. Also, do those numbers only include autism, or anything "on the spectrum" such as aspergers. Wikipedia states that the numbers for autism [wikipedia.org] are around 1-2 per 1000, and about 6 per 1000 for ASD (on the spectrum).
        • I would assume their statistic includes the entire spectrum of autistic disorder classifications. To oversimplify, from lesser to greater impact on individual functioning, the most common diagnoses on the spectrum are Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger's Syndrome and Autism.
    • by jeiler ( 1106393 )
      Anybody have any figures on what percentage of autism patients have the TSC gene?
      • Quick search of AutismSpeaks.org for TSC turned up this:

        Tuberous Sclerosis
        Individuals with Tuberous Sclerosis (TS) suffer from learning and behavioral deficits akin to those observed in autism as well as epilepsy. In TS, depending on the study, up to 60% of patients also meet the diagnostic criteria for autism. The defective genes are TSC1 (hamartin) and TSC2 (tuberin) which normally function in a complex of molecules important in cell growth and division. The complex is a suppressor of mTOR signaling. The link to autism turns out to be the PTEN molecule, which similarly functions as a suppressor of mTOR signaling. Some individuals with autism have been found to have mutations in the PTEN gene. Mice deficient in the mouse PTEN gene display autism-like behaviors, as do mice that have low levels of TSC1 and TSC2. Importantly, there is a drug that can function like PTEN, TSC1 and TSC2 in suppressing mTOR -- rapamycin. In the animal models, rapamycin normalizes learning deficits and reverses some of the abnormal phenotypes. Therefore, rapamycin is undergoing clinical trials to determine whether it can be an effective medication to alleviate the symptoms of TS. (Drs. Alcino Silva, Kevin Ess and Luis Parada)

        Not exactly what you asked for, but essentially the reverse relationship.

  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @08:58AM (#23965887)

    Or two legislatures, as you prefer.

  • crazy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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 Teckla ( 630646 )

      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

      Oh, quit whining. People always poke a lot more fun at the party of the administration currently in power.

  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:06AM (#23965973) Homepage Journal

    If they cure autism, what am I supposed to do to find postal codes if Billy the office cleanup boy is cured? Look them up online?
  • Cod Liver Oil (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lobiusmoop ( 305328 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:10AM (#23966021) Homepage

    Make sure you get plenty of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids while you're growing up (good source = cod liver oil), and you can avoid many mental problems in the first place [bbc.co.uk]

    • Easy there.. from this [wikipedia.org]:
      Some medical research suggests that excessive levels of n6 fatty acids, relative to n3 fatty acids, may increase the probability of a number of diseases and depression.

      Modern Western diets typically have ratios of n6 to n3 in excess of 10 to 1, some as high as 30 to 1. The optimal ratio is thought to be 4 to 1 or lower.


      Chronic excessive production of n6 eicosanoids is associated with heart attacks, thrombotic stroke, arrhythmia, arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammation, mood disorde

  • 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 aproposofwhat ( 1019098 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:33AM (#23966291)

      Any hope is a good hope.

      Amen to that - I'm looking forward to taking my severely autistic stepson out to the Brooklands Double Twelve this Sunday, and will be taking the utmost pleasure from seeing him enjoy himself among all the old racing cars.

      The behavioural problems we can cope with, but he's physically handicapped as well, so in residential care.

      But every Sunday, come rain or shine, it's Josh's day.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "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

    • I hear that. My mother in law has a foster child who is autistic. It's extremely difficult. I wouldn't discount any "voodoo" treatments if I were you though. Although completely unrelated to autism, I've known many people who have cured migraines, just by cutting out certain things from their diet. People who used to be debilitated by migraines for a day or two a week, now cease to have any at all, simply because of a change in diet. Also, concerning diet and autism, some autistic refuse to eat many f
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      "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 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?
  • by svendsen ( 1029716 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:22AM (#23966173)
    Can we get this drug to the majority of the US voters before November please?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      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.
      • I agree...too bad we don't have the option of "none of the above". Oh well I wonder which candidate will by me lunch after screwing me...
    • You seem to have a rather poor opinion of Obama supporters.
  • How many would you have to take before you can correctly pronounce "nuclear"? Because I can think of at least one really important person who needs to learn that already.

  • by j.sanchez1 ( 1030764 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @09:37AM (#23966353)
    Wake me up when they find a cure for severe retardedness. I'll buy enough for everyone at the office.
  • Algernon?

  • Retarded Mice? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cerelib ( 903469 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @10:24AM (#23966963)
    I am curious. How do you tell a retarded mouse from a regular mouse? (No, they don't say NARF)
  • Finally... (Score:3, Funny)

    by azav ( 469988 ) on Friday June 27, 2008 @04:25PM (#23973271) Homepage Journal

    Finally, a way to rid the world of retarded mice.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig