The researchers say they used the popular and effective class of cholesterol-lowering drugs to reverse the attention deficit disorders linked with the leading genetic cause of learning disabilities. The study was conducted with mice that were bred to develop the disease, neurofibromatosis 1.
The results proved so hopeful, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the drugs in three clinical trials currently under review to test the effect of statins in children and adults born with NF1. The findings could help the estimated 35 million Americans who struggle with learning disabilities.
"Learning disabilities and mental retardation each affect 5 percent of the world population," said Dr. Alcino Silva, professor of neurobiology, psychiatry and psychology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Currently, there are no treatment options for these people. That's why our findings are so exciting from a clinical perspective."
The Nov. 8 issue of Current Biology details the research.