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Preclinical work shows how one gene causes severe mental retardation
Date:5/10/2009

ents maintain a latent ability to express plasticity. We are now collaborating to find a way to tap into this latent plasticity, as this could offer a treatment, or even a cure, for Angelman syndrome," Philpot said.

Ehlers, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, said that perhaps some of these developmental brain disorders are a form of social and cognitive blindness. In a condition known as amblyopia, or cortical blindness, the eye can function normally, but past a critical period, the brain cannot process the sensory input correctly.

"We think that children with Angelman syndrome may have a condition in which sensory experience dampens down plasticity and affects learning," Ehlers said. "One important aspect of our findings is that sensory manipulations recovered plasticity, suggesting that the underlying substrates for plasticity are intact in mice. If the same thing holds true for the human disease, there may be a chance to improve brain function."


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Contact: Mary Jane Gore
mary.gore@duke.edu
919-660-1309
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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