Statins have reversed attention deficits in mice that are linked to the leading genetic cause of learning disabilities in humans, with results so promising that human trials are already under review.

Researchers at UCLA used the cholesterol-fighting drugs to treat mice bred to develop the disease, called neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1).

Reported in the journal Current Biology, the findings were promising enough that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of statins in three clinical trials currently under review for treating in children and adults born with NF1.

“Learning disabilities and mental retardation each affect five percent of the world population,” says Alcino Silva of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Currently, there are no treatment options for these people. That’s why our findings are so exciting from a clinical perspective.”

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