Cholesterol drug reverses learning disabilities in mice

NATION DIGEST

Nation Digest

November 08, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

LOS ANGELES -- Lovastatin, a widely used cholesterol-lowering drug, reverses common learning disabilities in mice, offering the first hope for a treatment of the problem in humans, University of California, Los Angeles researchers reported yesterday.

Three human trials in children and adults will begin at UCLA and other U.S. and European locations within weeks, said Dr. Alcino J. Silva, a neurobiologist at UCLA and the lead author of a paper appearing in the journal Current Biology.

Lovastatin, trade-named Mevacor, is one of a family of drugs known collectively as statins that have revolutionized the treatment of high cholesterol. The drugs, first introduced in the 1990s, are taken daily by millions of people at risk for heart disease and other problems, and have been widely recognized as safe.

The learning problems studied by the researchers were caused by a genetic defect called neurofibromatosis 1. It affects one in every 3,000 to 4,000 people.

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