Neurons, Neurons, & more Neurons!

A long known fact - individuals with Down syndrome have half the normal brain power.

Let's change that!

We want them to have a full normal complement of neurons.

Scientists have shown that "Prozac" can do that for us.


Between 1988 and 1997, Dr. Elizabeth Gould, at Rockefeller University, discovered that mice and primates grew many new neurons throughout life.  The scientific world did not believe her.  The standard medical thinking taught that all neurons were produced before birth and they stayed with you for a lifetime. This was a major paradigm shift, and the old ideas did not die easily. She joined the faculty at Princeton in 1997,and the arguments raged for about five years while the scientific community tested, reproduced, analyzed and reanalyzed this phenomenon. Their final conclusion - She was right! New brain nerves can be created throughout life! Another astounding revelation from a major academic scholar, and one that could have a tremendous effect on people with Down syndrome!



How can this discovery be converted into practical treatment? We didn't have to wait long for the answer. During the same timeframe, in a place about 100 miles north of the Rockefeller Institute, at Yale University, Dr. Ronald Dumon was working with antidepressants and could not understand why it took Prozac a month or two before it effectively elevated the mood of the patients. Working cooperatively with the team at Rockefeller Institute, he determined that it was much more than extra serotonin, it was the production of 50% more neurons in the brain that grew during the time lapse that lifted the spirits of the depressed patients. And we now know that Prozac grows new neurons! WOW!!!

More explanation about neurogenesis Seed Magazine

It is a known fact that the Down syndrome brain does not have the number of neurons that typical individuals have. Not only is the number of nerves reduced, they are misshapen and don't form the correct type of clusters. But whatever can be done about this? It had seemed to be a hopeless cause. Well it isn't; not since Dr. Gould's discovery and Dr. Duman's discoveries!

The University of Maryland School of Medicine, did a simple but elegant study with mice to test the effect of Prozac on Down syndrome mice. It was published on April 19, 2006. They showed that after 24 days of Prozac treatment the number of neurons in Down syndrome mice more than doubled, going from a count of 1700 to more than 4200.

The remarkable part is that both the shapes and necessary clustering improved as well. Will it really do the same for humans? Why not?

As we said earlier, we like to visualize the brain as a computer. For a computer to do its job it has to be plugged into an electric source and have a hard drive capable of handling the information load to be placed on it. With the two treatments of Ginkgo Biloba and Prozac, the Ginkgo Biloba represents the plug that allows the electrical signal to pass through the nerve properly, and the Prozac increases the size and configuration of the hard drive to insure it can cope with the information load.

If you think about it there is one more program required if you expect the computer to perform any constructive operations and that is software! Unfortunately there is no medical substitute for software. There is only education! The person with Down syndrome has a memory bank of a person ranging from two to five years old. Most of them never learn to read past the third grade level. The treatments discussed on this site are intended to prepare the brain to be capable of responding to education.

There may also be an unanticipated benefit. In her discussions Dr. Gould notes that the animals she tests lose neurons and replace them on an ongoing basis. However, if the number of neurons drops below a certain level the brain appears to go into a defensive mode and directs all its energy into maintenance of the existing supply, and stops the generation of the new replacements. This leads to further neurodegeneration. In effect this would describe the situation with the Down syndrome brain which has only half the normal neuron supply from birth. If so, building to the full neuron level with Prozac could overcome this source of neurodegeneration.

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