17 July 2013
Genetic advance in Down's syndrome
By Helen Briggs BBC News
|Down's syndrome is caused by an extra chromosome|
US scientists say they have moved a step closer to being able to treat disorders caused by an extra chromosome.
They have "switched off" the chromosome that causes the symptoms of Down's syndrome in human cells in the lab.
The research, published in Nature, could one day lead to new medical treatments for the condition.
Future work may be of real benefit to people with Down's syndrome, said the UK Down's Syndrome Association.
Humans are born with 23 pairs of chromosomes, including two sex chromosomes, making a total of 46 in each cell.
People with Down's syndrome have three - rather than two - copies of chromosome 21.
This causes symptoms such as learning disabilities and early-onset Alzheimer's disease, as well as a greater risk of blood disorders and heart defects.
Gene therapy, which uses genes to treat illnesses, has been attempted for problems caused by a single defective gene. But until now, the idea of being able to silence the effects of a whole chromosome had appeared beyond the realms of possibility, even in the lab. (...)
Continue reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23340924