Health Watch - Treating Children: Down Syndrome

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about research focusing on young patients. New research has found that a protein associated with a condition affecting older patients also affects younger ones.

Down syndrome is a condition caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. One of the genes on this chromosome produces beta-amyloid, a protein that accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and that may cause the mental decline associated with the disease. Children with Down syndrome also have high levels of this protein.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that a drug that blocks the formation of beta-amyloid helped improve learning ability in young mice with a condition similar to Down syndrome. Dr. Craig Powell, a UT Southwestern neurologist, says this drug also blocks other necessary functions, so it could have side effects. But these preliminary results are promising and will lead to more research.

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July 2010


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