Team may have treatment for mental deficiency

A research team at Shanghai Jiao Tong University says it has found a potential approach for intellectual disability.

A research team at Shanghai Jiao Tong University has found that anti-cancer drug rapamycin may be a potential approach for intellectual disability, a condition it said affects more than 100 million people around the world. 

Previous researches have identified a genetic deficiency in the X chromosome as one of the most important causes of intellectual disability as it occurs more often in males than in females. Meanwhile, mutations in the plant homeodomain finger protein 8 (Phf8) gene have been found to be associated with X-linked mental retardation.

However, how the mutations of Phf8 gene cause intellectual disability had remained unknown.

The Jiao Tong team found that the loss of Phf8 caused deficiencies in learning and memory, according to their latest publication in science journal Nature Communications.

The researches used mice in which the Phf8 gene was deactivated to mimic intellectual disability in humans.

Long-term potentiation, which is an important mechanism behind learning and memory, in the brain of mice was significantly weakened, resulting in these two aspects.

They found that rapamycin could improve cognitive functions in mice with the deactivated gene.

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