Treatment for the cognitive decline experienced by individuals with Down syndrome could be on the way, scientists reported this week.

Researchers found that a drug which increases the neurotransmitter norepinephrine in the brain boosted mental capabilities in mice with Down syndrome, scientists report in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

This suggests that using the drug — called L-DOPS or xamoterol — on humans could improve cognition.

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“The possibility is very real that such a therapy, if proven safe, would be effective in treating dementia in later-stage Down’s syndrome patients,” said William C. Mobley, chair of the department of neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego, who conducted the study.

The finding shows promise for the estimated 400,000 Americans living with Down syndrome, a condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome. Individuals with Down syndrome often have intellectual disability and are said to experience dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as they age in disproportionately high numbers.