Scientific Workshop Discusses Alzheimer’s/Down Syndrome Research

Down syndrome and Alzheimer's panelists at the Chicago workshop

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Association hosted the first-ever workshop to bring together key scientists from the fields of Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s research this week in Chicago.

With the overwhelming evidence of a strong connection between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s, and acceptance of the idea that studying people with Down syndrome is key to discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, the workshop aimed to plot the direction of research in this emerging field.

Down syndrome occurs when a person has three copies of the 21st chromosome instead of the normal two. Studies show that one the main genes responsible for Alzheimer’s disease is on the 21st chromosome and is therefore more active in individuals with Down syndrome. Virtually 100 percent of people with Down syndrome will develop the pathology in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, even if it’s not always accompanied by the same memory loss.

By fostering a closer community of research, those studying Alzheimer’s will gain the most profoundly fitting population to help find a cure, and those studying Down syndrome may obtain access to funding that didn’t exist before. Down syndrome is the least-funded genetic condition by the National Institutes of Health, despite being the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder, affecting 1 in every 691 live births in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We’ll have more details about the results of the workshop soon.

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