Japan to test Down's syndrome drug

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Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai announced Monday it will begin therapeutic testing of a drug it hopes will improve the quality of life for people with Down’s syndrome.

The “Aricept” donezepil hydrochloride drug, which has been used to treat some symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, will be tested to see if it will have the same effect on those afflicted with Down’s syndrome.

“This testing, if effective, might show that the medication could improve their condition and help improve the quality of their lives,” a spokesman for Esai said.

The drug will be tested on patients between the ages of 15 and 39 in 10 hospitals across Japan, and that the trial program could continue for up to four years, according to the spokesman.

The drug, however, is not intended to treat the underlying condition, but to treat some of the symptoms and provide relief for the affected persons, AFP reports.

Down’s Syndrome is a congenital disorder caused by a chromosome defect that affect the mental ability of the person and comes with physical abnormalities, including distinctive facial features.