"They have the disease from the get go," he said.
Costa says the world is awash in false assumptions about Down syndrome ranging from distortions on life expectancy to educational limitations. In fact, depending on the severity of their condition, those with Down can live into their 70s, attend college, live independently and hold down jobs.
"If we are successful, it will increase hope and expectations for those with Down syndrome," Costa said. "Right now there are drugs for the signs and symptoms of medical conditions more frequent in those with Down syndrome, but nothing to improve brain function. In fact, the prevailing wisdom has been that there is essentially nothing you can do to boost memory and learning in this group. Hopefully, we can prove them wrong."
But he and other Down researchers face an overall lack of federal funding, especially when compared to other diseases and disorders.
Costa has been supported by Forest Pharmaceuticals which is funding the clinical trial, the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and the National Institute of Child Health and Development, part of the National Institutes of Health.
"Clearly these funding sources are the unsung heroes," Costa said. "They may not get the attention or publicity but I can assure you that our efforts and the future of those with Down syndrome would be seriously compromised without their continued generosity."
|Contact: David Kelly|
University of Colorado Denver