Welcome to Illinois

A quick look at pentylenetetrazole

Posted in Scientific research, Therapeutic treatments by Matt at WelcometoIllinois on October 17, 2008

I recently mentioned some research that had indicated that a drug called pentylenetetrazole, or PTZ, could improve learning and memory in people with Down’s syndrome.

As this research was published in my pre-Down’s awareness days I thought it would be worth reviewing what it, and PTZ, was all about.

According to this announcement from the Down’s syndrome Association the research, carried out at Stanford University, proved that daily treatment with PTZ improved learning and memory in mice with Down’s syndrome symptoms.

As The Telegraph explains: “The researchers believe that the key to the improvement lies in the fact that PTZ blocks the action of an messenger chemical called GABA, which damps down nerve cell activity in the brain. It is thought that Down’s syndrome patients have too much GABA-related inhibition, making it difficult to process information.”

That’s the good news. The bad news?

“The compound is not currently approved for use in humans by the Food and Drug Administration in the US. In high doses it is known to cause seizures.” The researchers naturally cautioned individuals against experimenting with PTZ.

So what is PTZ?

According to the sometimes reliable Wikipedia “It is a drug used as a circulatory and respiratory stimulant. Larger doses cause convulsions, thus it has been used in shock therapy. It was never considered to be effective, and side-effects such as seizures are difficult to avoid. Its approval by FDA was revoked in 1982.”

An article in Scientific American from February last year noted that it caused seizures at doses 100-fold higher than those given to the mice in the tests and that “clinical trials of PTZ could begin in the next year or two, and evaluating them might take five to 10 years.”

So any breakthrough could be a long time coming, if at all. “Many compounds that boost learning in mice fail in human trials,” cautions the report. It also adds that two other compounds – picrotoxin and a gingko biloba extract called bilobalide – were also involved in the tests, the latter of which has also been linked to improving the memory of people with Down’s syndrome.


4 Responses

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  1. Carol said, on October 17, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Hello Illinois! I happen to live in Illinois and am quite proud you chose us as the name for your blog. 🙂

    You may want to check out the Down Syndrome Treatment and Research Foundation’s site for more information along these lines. My husband’s company hosts a golf outing in the summer to support the DSTRF.


  2. welcometoillinois said, on October 17, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks Carol, glad you like it. Thanks for the info. I hadn’t come across that site before. Looks like they have a lot of good research going on.

  3. Rickismom said, on October 19, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Don’t worry. When some day there is finally a REAL drug, one that is effective, and safe, you will here about it VERY fast……..

  4. Cassi Haynes said, on November 4, 2010 at 1:57 am

    7 years ago after my son was born with Down Syndrome, I did some research on the internet and found that in Europe there was a drug they were using in a study on people diagnosed with Down Syndrome. They began as infants and were administered this medication that greatly improved their cognitive skills and as the infants grew up their cognitive skills continued to increase. I believe they also administered this drug to adolescents and adults with Down Syndrome which also showed great increases in their cognitive abilities. At the time, the medication was not approved by the FDA for use in the United States because some of the chemical composition was the same as meth. I believe the medication began with a V or P and had a number after it and cost about $180 for a 30 day prescription. Has anyone happened to come across this same research in recent years? I have tried looking it up on Google and have found nothing. If this is something that can even provide a little hope for my son to lead a happier life, I’m willing to give it a try. At the time I found this information, I was not financially capable of paying for it.

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