Friday, August 31, 2007


I updated the books page on the site ~

~~ Qadoshyah ~~

New Study showing Zinc Supplementation Should Be Given to Children with DS

Neat study . . . basically they found that in children with DS once they reached age 5 their blood zinc levels decreased. They are therefore suggesting that supplementation may be necessary after 5 years of age.

I know that zinc levels can be decreased at a younger age as well, so best be ahead of the game and check zinc levels regularly with the child's routine bloodwork.

Immunological patterns in young children with Down Syndrome: is there a temporal trend?

Neonatology and Preventive Paediatric Department, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Down syndrome is associated with an increased susceptibility to infections due to a deficiency of both specific and nonspecific immunity. Aim: The aim of the study was to analyze the temporal trends, if any, of some variables related to the immunological status of children affected by Down syndrome. Methods: Heparinized blood samples were obtained by venipuncture in 30 children with Down syndrome, who were regularly followed in our department and analyzed for hematologic values, lymphocyte subpopulations, immunoglobulin dosage and zinc level. Results were compared with those of the normal population. Results: In the first 5 years of life, we observed a progressive decrease in the medium values of lymphocytes, CD4(+) and plasma zinc levels, and an increase in CD8(+), immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin G, immunoglobulin M and natural killer, but generally without exceeding the interval of normality. Conclusions: In Down syndrome children, the immune cellular status is similar to the normal population as far as white blood cell, lymphocyte, CD4(+), CD8(+), natural killer and immunoglobulins are concerned. Plasma level of zinc is normal from birth until 5 years but with a temporal trend of progressive reduction. This observation supports the hypothesis that a pharmacological supplementation may be necessary in Down syndrome children only after 5 years of age.

PMID: 17727689 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Full text available

I received the full text of the study done by Franz on the Brain's good and bad iron. If anyone is interested in it, feel free to email me ( and I will send it to you :).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Separating the Brain's 'Bad' from 'Good' Iron

This research looks really interesting. I have emailed Franz (one of the chemists who is doing this research) to ask her for the full text of one of the research papers she did (in The Journal of the American Chemical Society). I will post when I have received the full text.


Separating the Brain's 'Bad' from 'Good' Iron

Duke chemists have found a way, by using 'pro-chelators' wrapped in chemical 'cages'

Boston -- Duke University chemists are developing ways to bind up iron in the brain to combat the neurological devastation of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. The key is to weed out potentially destructive forms of iron that generate harmful free radicals while leaving benign forms of iron alone to carry out vital functions in the body.

"Using existing chelating (metal-binding) molecules to target iron in the brain can be tricky," said Katherine Franz, an assistant chemistry professor at Duke, because iron is essential to the body. "We want to go after only the iron that is causing the damage. We don't want to pull the iron out of healthy sites."

On Aug. 23, during the American Chemical Society's August 2007 national meeting in Boston, Franz will describe her work with graduate student Louise Charkoudian to formulate sensitive chemical sentinels they call "pro-chelators." Those are metal-binding agents wrapped in chemical "cages" so they can enter the brain and wait in reserve until they encounter a site of potential damage.

Such a site contains both iron and the molecule hydrogen peroxide. The reaction between these two players -- known as a "Fenton reaction" -- can lead to the production of a highly reactive oxygen-containing chemical group called a hydroxyl radical, Franz said.

These toxic chemical radicals can cause oxidative stress in brain cells that has been associated with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's as well as other age-related maladies such as macular degeneration in the eyes, she said.

The pro-chelators that Franz will describe at the ACS meeting contain phenols that wear chemical "masks" around themselves to keep them from binding with benign forms of iron or other metals, such as those found in some essential enzymes. But the presence of excessive amounts of hydrogen peroxide will trigger an unmasking, allowing the phenols to sop up and inactivate the bad iron, she said.

Franz and Charkoudian described their first formula for a pro-chelator in a report printed in the Sept. 27, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The work is being supported by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation and Duke University.

Franz's Aug. 23 talk at the society's latest national meeting will concentrate on a second generation of pro-chelator compounds that are better tailored in both sensitivity and response time to the brain's chemical environment, she said.

A report on those newer compounds is also pending in the journal Dalton Transactions and includes contributions by post-doctoral associate David Pham and Duke undergraduate students Ashley Kwon and Abbey Vangeloff.

While their previous experiments have been in laboratory glassware, the Duke pair has now begun working with living cells.

"That work looks promising," Franz said. "It looks like we're seeing iron binding only when we increase the levels of hydrogen peroxide. This level of peroxide normally kills cells, but we are seeing cell survival with the pro-chelators, so we're very excited."


Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Research by Dr. Costa

It's been a little while since I posted anything on the blog. I have been very busy and haven't done too much with the site or blog lately. I thought I'd put this new research up though.

New Research Uncovers Clue to Help Down Syndrome Patients Increase Learning Capacity

DENVER (Aug. 20, 2007) - Researchers at the University of Colorado at Denver and
Health Sciences Center (UCDHSC) may have found a way to reverse the learning deficit
associated with Down syndrome. The findings could potentially lead to a new therapy to
increase the learning capacity of children and adults born with the genetic disorder. The
findings are published in the Aug. 15 advance online edition of
Neuropsychopharmacology, a publication of the Nature Publishing Group.

The UCDHSC research tested the effectiveness of memantine, an FDA-approved drug
already being used to treat patients with Alzheimer's disease. When the drug was used on
mice with an animal model of Down syndrome, researchers found the mice to have better
memory retention. This authors note this "is the first instance in which acute injection of a
drug agent has improved the behavioral performance of Down syndrome mice in a test of
learning and memory," and that the findings are promising from a therapeutical

The study was conducted using a chamber to measure the learning retention of mice with
Down syndrome against healthy control mice. Once inside the chamber, the mice were
exposed to a brief and mild electric stimulus carefully designed to produce an unpleasant
feeling without causing harm.

"When run through this type of experiment, typical control mice generally are able to
associate being in the chamber with the unpleasant stimulus," said Alberto Costa, MD,
PhD, associate professor of medicine and neuroscience at UCDHSC's School of Medicine
and lead author of the study. "After being exposed to the stimulus, the control mice would
experience freezing behavior when they were put back into the chamber 24 hours later.
The mice with Down syndrome were not able to recall the stimulus at all. Instead, they
would stroll around the chamber the same way as mice that had never been exposed to it."

After administering just two doses of the drug memantine, the study found that the mice
with Down syndrome displayed a statistically indistinguishable amount of freezing
behavior, much like the behavior observed in the control mice.

The first dose of memantine was given 15 minutes before the mice were exposed to the
stimulus for the first time and the second dose was given to the mice 24 hours later, 15
minutes before they were put back in the chamber.

"In a separate set of experiments, the research team found that the most important dose
of memantine seems to be the one taken before the animals are first exposed to the
stimulus inside the chamber, which argues for a more important role of the drug on
memory formation, as opposed to memory retrieval," said Costa.

Costa, also the parent of a 12-year-old child with Down syndrome, hopes to receive
institutional review board approval to lead a team of physicians and psychologists in
Denver in a pilot, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial in which they will attempt
to translate the knowledge acquired from this research into a potential therapy for the
cognitive deficits associated with Down syndrome.

"After 11 years working in the field of Down syndrome, I feel fortunate to finally be in a
position of being able to use scientific research to try to help improve the quality of the
life of people who share the same genetic disorder as my daughter," he said.

This Down syndrome research was funded by the Anna & John J. Sie Foundation, the
Coleman Institute for Developmental Disabilities, the Mile High Down Syndrome
Association, the Colorado Springs Down Syndrome Association,
and the National Institutes
of Health.

The School of Medicine faculty work to advance science and improve care as the
physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, The Children's
Hospital, Denver Health, National Jewish Medical and Research Center and the Veterans
Administration Medical Center . The School is part of the University of Colorado at Denver
and Health Sciences Center , one of three universities in the University of Colorado system.
For more information, visit the Web site at or the UCDHSC Newsroom at

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