Portuguese American Journal

Alberto Costa: A tale of fatherly love – People

Inspired by the birth of his daughter Tyche with Down syndrome, Brazilian physician and neuroscientist, Alberto Costa, spent 15 years researching a cure for the genetic disorder.

In an interview for the New York Times, Dr. Costa tells how he dealt with the pain of realizing Tyche was born with a condition for which there was no treatment or cure. Devastated by the diagnosis, he cried through the night holding Tyche’s hand.

He said “All I could think is, She’s my baby, she’s a lovely girl and what can I do to help her? Obviously I was a physician and a neuroscientist who studies the brain. Here was this new life in front of me and holding my finger and looking straight in my eyes. How could I not think in terms of helping that kid?”

Dr. Costa had no experience in the study of Down syndrome, but the next day he walked to the library and started looking for a cure for Tyche’s affliction.

Working with a mouse model of the disease, Dr. Costa researched for positive effects of memantine on Dow syndrome. Memantine is a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s.

The results were not only encouraging, they were successful. Currently, Dr. Costa is working on a randomized human trial for a potential new therapy.

Thanks to a recent reseach breakthrough, a new developed noninvasive test will make it quite simple to spot Down syndrome in fetuses leading to a cure. Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of cognitive disabilities.

A native of Brazil, Dr. Alberto Costa is an associate professor of medicine and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Medicine. On March 26, 2009, the Down Syndrome Research Foundation (DSRF) honored him with the prestigious “Exceptional contribution to research in Down syndrome” award at the second annual Josephine Mills Research Awards Gala in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Read the full story in the  The New York Times >>

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