Biotechnology

Real Flowers for Algernon

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algernon

Under the headline "Retarded mice get smarter with drug," this awesome news:

Lab mice with the mental retardation of Down syndrome got smarter after being fed a drug that strengthened brain circuits involved in learning and memory, researchers reported Sunday….

"These mice are essentially restored to normal, which I haven't seen before," said David Patterson, a Down syndrome researcher at the University of Denver, who was not involved in the study. "And the treatment seems to be long-lasting, which is a pretty surprising observation all by itself."

Unfortunately, no boon for Average Joes looking to do better on the SATs:

Scientists also fed [the drug] to normal mice, but the drug had no effect on the animals' mental skills.

An interesting twist in light of the current scenario, where more than 90 percent of prenatal Down syndrome diagnoses lead to abortion:

"Typically the message that parents receive when the child is born is that nothing can be done," [Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation co-founder Patricia A. O'Brien] White said. "I think this study offers a different perspective."

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  1. This is bad news for libertarianism.

  2. Why?

    Libertarians are all for better living thru pharmaceuticals.

    And less retarded living thru video games.

    And more fun from corn syrup swathered sex toys.

  3. Moose-

    He was implying that all libertarians are retarded.

    lol

  4. Science is cool. Drugs and stuff.

  5. He was implying that all libertarians are retarded

    OUTRAGEOUS! How very dare he!

    I said good day to you sir!

  6. Media – oh. Gotcha.

    I for one only act it. ūüôā

    cheers.

  7. Their going to medicate our base?

    All our base are belong to them!

  8. There are some drugs that make mice so smart, they can talk.

    Seriously, you eat the paper, and 45 minutes later, the mice start talking.

  9. more than 90 percent of prenatal Down syndrome diagnoses lead to abortion:

    [Link not working for me.]
    Just what does that mean? 90% of parents diagnosed with Down Syndrome abort their children? 90% of children are aborted if they’re diagnosed with Down Syndrome by their parents?

  10. “more than 90 percent of prenatal Down syndrome diagnoses lead to abortion”

    Huh? That is an absurdly high number, compared to national pro-choice/pro-life stats.

    So either:

    1. That 90% number is crap, or at least doesn’t mean what I think it means. (the link doesn’t work, so I have a difficult time checking it out)

    2. Down syndrome is unusually prevalent among children of people who are pro-choice (possible I guess, but unlikely)

    3. Roughly 30% of people are hypocrites, who have no problem electing pro-life politicians, but opt for an abortion when a kid would inconvenience them.

    Does anyone see a fourth option?

  11. There are some drugs that make mice so smart, they can talk.

    Of course they can talk. The mice are responsible for the planet to begin with. They’ve been doing experiments on us for years. Running through mazes and watching how we react when they find the cheese and so forth. They’re hoping to find the answer.

  12. It’s good to see that NIMH is still in business.

  13. There are some drugs that make mice so smart, they can talk.

    Seriously, you eat the paper, and 45 minutes later, the mice start talking.
    Dude, when Newton discovered gravity, he took that sheet of paper, as we all should. It will open up our third eye to the world beyond our world, man.

  14. Heh, David, that was great.

    So, we should expect FDA approval of a treatment for humans in, say, 40 years?

  15. A fourth option?

    Oh yes.

    The world is run by a highly secretive sect of Jewish humanoids who created gravity and have scientific proof that the world is shaped like a massive foot.

    It was them, the ‘umpatoo’ as they like to be known, that were responsible for 9/11, Vietnam and Sex in the City.

    Go figure.

  16. MarkVIII,

    I KNEW IT! I frick’n knew it. They have a mind control ray. Fortunately it can be blocked with even a thin layer of metal.

  17. Here’s the Fourth Option: only those who are inclined to abort a child with Down’s syndrome have the test performed. The test is invasive and dangerous to the child/fetus, so if you’re not going to consider abortion, there is no point in having the test performed.

    My wife and her friends are all in their child bearing prime, so we know nine women who have had (collectively) 13 children in the past four years. None of these women had the test performed.

  18. here my fourth:

    the vast majority of folks who get the test are doing so for the purpose of killing off a defective fetus if one presents itself

    those who are opposed to abortion are less likely to get the test done

    the test itself presents dangers of its own involving a long needle in close proximity to a half cooked baby

  19. I figured it was something simple like that; I’d assumed that it was a routine test they give to everyone.

  20. Fifth option: Hypocrites who are pro-life in public but choose to abort their own baby at the first sign of trouble.

  21. Lamar: wasn’t that #3?

  22. I wonder how long until the pro-retard movement to “protect retard culture” from drugs like this. You know, the same way those “deaf culture” idiots get on about how not having one of the basic mammalian senses is SO SUPER AWESOME.

    I’m guessing as soon as anybody talks about a potential human trial.

  23. Timothy,

    Actually they prefer to be called the “Corky Culture.”

  24. Timothy – there are luddites and masochists everywhere, eh?

  25. “Lowdog | February 26, 2007, 2:08pm | #
    Timothy – there are luddites and masochists everywhere, eh?”

    so, what, they use a hand-cranked taser for shocking the jumblies?

    cool.

  26. “3. Roughly 30% of people are hypocrites, who have no problem electing pro-life politicians, but opt for an abortion when a kid would inconvenience them.”

    this would be my guess.

  27. dhex – option #3 has already been eliminated, so I might suggest considering what this means about your personal prejudices and how they impact the way your interpret the world…

  28. jose – you may misunderstand. like a lot of things in this world, good for me but not for thee seems to be a common theme when it comes to things involving a major life choice.

    there are several ways to test for downs syndrome, btw, including some newer non-invasive procedures which are up and coming:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11095-noninvasive-downs-syndrome-test-shows-promise.html

    so while i appreciate your group of friends have not had these done, you may appreciate that your group of friends is not nearly everyone. having a disabled child is no doubt a sobering choice for some people – and a tremendous commitment – which may swing their opinion when it comes to abortion.

    it’s easy to decide for other people, far less easy for ourselves (think of cops caught with drugs or prostitution scams; politicans and hookers; every anti-gay minister on earth caught sucking dick; etc)

    i don’t think it’s that much of a stretch, given how easy it is to preach and not nearly as easy to practice.

  29. http://www.greenjournal.org/cgi/content/short/108/5/1067

    Pregnancy Loss Rates After Midtrimester Amniocentesis
    Keith A. Eddleman, MD1, Fergal D. Malone, MD2, Lisa Sullivan, PhD3, Kim Dukes, PhD3, Richard L. Berkowitz, MD1,2, Yara Kharbutli, MS1, T. Flint Porter, MD4, David A. Luthy, MD5, Christine H. Comstock, MD6, George R. Saade, MD7, Susan Klugman, MD8, Lorraine Dugoff, MD9, Sabrina D. Craigo, MD10, Ilan E. Timor-Tritsch, MD11, Stephen R. Carr, MD12, Honor M. Wolfe, MD13, Mary E. D’Alton, MD for the First and Second Trimester Evaluation of Risk (FASTER) Trial Research Consortium*2

    From the 1Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York; 2Columbia University, New York, New York; 3Boston University Department of Biostatistics and DM-STAT, Boston, Massachusetts; 4University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah; 5Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, Washington; 6William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan; 7University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, Texas; 8Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York; 9University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado; 10Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts; 11New York University, New York, New York; 12Women and Infant’s Hospital, Providence Rhode Island; and 13University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

    OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to quantify the contemporary procedure-related loss rate after midtrimester amniocentesis using a database generated from patients who were recruited to the First And Second Trimester Evaluation of Risk for Aneuploidy trial.

    METHODS: A total of 35,003 unselected patients from the general population with viable singleton pregnancies were enrolled in the First And Second Trimester Evaluation of Risk for Aneuploidy trial between 10 3/7 and 13 6/7 weeks gestation and followed up prospectively for complete pregnancy outcome information. Patients who either did (study group, n=3,096) or did not (control group, n=31,907) undergo midtrimester amniocentesis were identified from the database. The rate of fetal loss less than 24 weeks of gestation was compared between the two groups, and multiple logistic regression analysis was used to adjust for potential confounders.

    RESULTS: The spontaneous fetal loss rate less than 24 weeks of gestation in the study group was 1.0% and was not statistically different from the background 0.94% rate seen in the control group (P=.74, 95% confidence interval -0.26%, 0.49%). The procedure-related loss rate after amniocentesis was 0.06% (1.0% minus the background rate of 0.94%). Women undergoing amniocentesis were 1.1 times more likely to have a spontaneous loss (95% confidence interval 0.7-1.5).

    CONCLUSION: The procedure-related fetal loss rate after midtrimester amniocentesis performed on patients in a contemporary prospective clinical trial was 0.06%. There was no significant difference in loss rates between those undergoing amniocentesis and those not undergoing amniocentesis.

    LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II-2

  30. dhex –

    From the article you posted: “Women undergoing amniocentesis were 1.1 times more likely to have a spontaneous loss”. This risk, while not “significant” in a statistical sense, is very significant to a mother with a growing child in her belly, especially when the procedure is completely elective.

    Also, note that only 3000 of 35,000 women elected to have amnio – which is a pretty good indication that only those who really, really, really don’t want a kid with Down’s syndrome undergo this procedure.

  31. Didja ever notice Keyes classic, as well as other “literary SF” such as works by LeGuin and Phil Dick, never get chided for “getting the future wrong” the way the pulpier stuff does?

    Who cares if VALIS isn’t up and running yet, where’s my damned flying car?

  32. OK, so I was a little redundant in my support for option 3. BTW: a lot of pro-lifers will make exceptions for “problem” pregnancies. It isn’t hypocrisy because they’ll fully admit to such exceptions.

  33. “Also, note that only 3000 of 35,000 women elected to have amnio – which is a pretty good indication that only those who really, really, really don’t want a kid with Down’s syndrome undergo this procedure.”

    i’m not saying it’s not an increased risk, but it’s also not astronomical.

    or who fall into the risk group, which i’m willing to bet is a significant portion, regardless of their actual stance on abortion, since there’s a lot more risks with older mothers. and a lot more older mothers these days.

    what i suppose will be more telling is as blood test based screening becomes more common for genetic disorders and the birth population continues to inch older, whether we continue to see a drop in these syndromes or not.

    it may be hypocritical on paper for someone who doesn’t support abortion for others to get one themselves in the case of a pregnancy where there’s a danger to the mother or a severe disability, but it’s not suprising or hard to believe. (again, think of all the concealed carry permits given out to otherwise anti-gun liberals in nyc, if you want a selection from the other side of the aisle.)

  34. Expert opinion here from someone who’s been there — twice.

    During her pregnancies for our last two children — girls both — my wife had abnormally high alphafetoprotein levels in her blood, a sign of increased risk for Down’s Syndrome. As a result, both times we went to have a more in-depth ultrasound done by a specialist who examined the fetus for certain indicative physical features such as relative finger length.

    Both times the untrasounds were “negative”, but even when the doctor gave us the option of having an amnio done to “make sure” we decided not to, having previously resolved to accept the kids as is no matter what the problems were (both were born healthy, BTW).

    So, given my admittedly anecdotal experience I would say that most people who have the amnio done are the ones who are most likely to abort in the first place.

  35. Wait, aren’t amnios pretty much standard during prenatal care these day?

  36. Wait, aren’t amnios pretty much standard during prenatal care these day?

    No. They are not performed unless the pregnancy is high risk. We had a baby 11 months ago – no amniocentesis.

  37. Wait, aren’t amnios pretty much standard during prenatal care these day?

    Nope, at least not with our Ob/Gyn, likely due to the risks mentioned above. Amnios are usually only done if something wrong has been detected.

    Ultrasounds, though, are routine.

    And quite effective, too: the difference in video quality from our first daughter to our third was amazing. They now have 3-D image scans that can show what the kid’s face looks like, which has led to a proliferation of “Fetal Fotos” shops that do on-demand ultrasound portraits for prospective parents.

  38. When I was a kid, a boy down the street had a mentally retarded pet mouse.

    One day the mouse, named Lennie, playfully nuzzled my friend — and, not realizing its own strength, the mouse crushed my friend to death.

  39. I smell a rat.

    OK, somebody had to say it.

  40. I wonder how long until the pro-retard movement to “protect retard culture” from drugs like this. You know, the same way those “deaf culture” idiots get on about how not having one of the basic mammalian senses is SO SUPER AWESOME.

    That was pretty much my first thought, too.

    Anyway, great news!

  41. They wish to cure us. But I say, WE ARE THE CURE!

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