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New Drugs May Help Treat Intellectual Disabilities

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Scientists are trying to develop treatments for a genetic condition that causes learning disabilities and cognitive impairment and is the most common cause of autism yet identified by researchers.

Fragile X syndrome, which affects almost 100,000 Americans, is the most common inherited form of intellectual impairment, the Associated Press reported. In people with Fragile X syndrome, the synapses, or connections between brain cells, are too immature to work properly.

Researchers are focusing on drugs designed to block an overactive receptor that plays an important role in these poorly functioning synapses. Strengthening the synapses could improve learning and behavior in people with Fragile X syndrome.

"We are moving into a new age of reversing intellectual disabilities," Dr. Randi Hagerman, who directs the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis, told the AP.

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