Cough Syrup Treats Down Syndrome? New Study Aims to Find Out

A team of researchers is about to conduct a study to determine if an active ingredient in cough syrup could be used to help treat patients with Down syndrome.

The researchers are working in conjunction with Monash University in Australia and will conduct the clinical study in an attempt to determine if a common ingredient in cough syrup and other cold medicines might help might increase the cognitive abilities of Down syndrome patients.

Scientists revealed that the study would focus around an ingredient known in the scientific community as BTD-001, which was also previously used to treat elderly patients with dementia.

Previous studies conducted in the 1950s and 60s showed that after patients received treatment with drugs containing that particular ingredient, some showed improvements in both memory skills and cognitive functions. But because of the relatively small size of the experiments performed, the findings were largely overlooked.

"BTD-001 is a form of a drug product approved and used widely in many countries around the world from the 1920's until the 1980's to treat respiratory conditions and senile dementia (memory loss in the elderly)," according to a statement released by the Monash University.

Researchers are using this approach due to the fact that cognitive issues associated with senile dementia are very similar to those of Down syndrome, and BTD-001 could offer another treatment method to improving the cognitive functions for patients with Down syndrome.

Scientists will be focusing on how the ingredient affects a subject's memory, language skills, reaction time and overall behavior.

"In this clinical study, BTD-001 will be given at lower doses than those used in the past. Past use of higher doses was considered generally safe and well tolerated … the potential efficacy of BTD-001 in Down syndrome is supported by strong scientific evidence," the press release read.

This clinical trial will start by focusing on how adolescents diagnosed with Down syndrome react to BTD-001.