News from CRG and IMIM
A team of scientists led by doctors Rafael de la Torre at Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) and Mara Dierssen at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) have shown that epigallocatechin gallate, a compound present in green tea, together with a cognitive stimulation protocol, might improve some of the intellectual capacities in individuals with Down’s syndrome, and might modify the excitability and functional connectivity of their brains.
“This is the first time that a treatment has shown some efficacy in the improvement of some cognitive tasks in persons with this syndrome," states Dr. Dierssen, head of the Cellular and Systems Neurobiology group at the Centre for Genomic Regulation and lead author of the paper. “It must be made clear that our discovery is not a cure for Down’s syndrome and that our results have to be proven in larger populations, but it may be a treatment to improve these individuals’ quality of life,” she adds.
According to the World Health Organization, Down’s syndrome affects approximately one out of 1,000 persons in the world, and is the most common cause of genetic-origin intellectual disability. It is caused by a trisomy of chromosome 21. In other words, Down’s syndrome people have three, not two, copies of chromosome 21. This causes the genes present in this chromosome to be overexpressed. The work of the IMIM and CRG researchers focuses on the role of a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, which compensates for the excess of function of one of the genes present in chromosome 21 (DYRK1A), involved in cerebral plasticity and certain cognitive functions. The study results indicate that individuals treated with epigallocatechin gallate and a cognitive stimulation protocol had score improvements in visual recognition memory, inhibitory control, and adaptive behaviour, and that these changes might be correlated with biological changes in their cerebral connectivity.
De la Torre et al. ‘Safety and efficacy of cognitive training plus epigallocatechin-3-gallate for cognitive improvement in young adults with Down syndrome (TESDAD): a double-blind, randomised controlled, phase 2 trial”. Lancet Neurology. 6th June 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(16)30034-5