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  • 5/23/2009

Down syndrome offers hope to cancer patients

child with down syndrome

A new US study on mice links the extra copy of chromosome 21 in people with Down syndrome with the lower incidence of cancer among the group.

According to the study published in the International Journal of Nature, people with Down syndrome are less prone to develop most kinds of cancer except for leukemia. A study of nearly 18,000 Down's patients showed that people with Down syndrome have 10 percent of the expected rate of cancer.

Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of mental retardation among all races and economic levels.

The study reported that the extra protein encoded by the RCAN1 gene might have some anticancer effects.

Therefore they compared two sets of mice, some with a third copy of the RCAN1 gene and some with the usual pair. Then the mice were surgically implanted with tumors. It was found that those with the additional RCAN1 protein had less tumor growth.

In addition, findings reveal that angiogenesis; a physiological process involving the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels, is also reduced. As a result, fewer blood vessels are developed to nourish the tumor and this will lead to reduced tumor growth.

Scientists say that the gene seems to work in combination with another gene on chromosome 21 which interferes with the signals promoting tumor nourishment.


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