Down’s Symptoms Could Be Reversible

Chemistry & Industry Magazine

The discovery of a gene responsible for learning and memory defects in Down’s Syndrome means mental retardation may soon be reversible, according to a report in this issue of Chemistry & Industry magazine. The gene was discovered by a group led by William Mobley, director of a new centre for Down ’s syndrome research at Stanford University, California.

’The bottom line is that we have found one gene that we think is very important,’ says Mobley. ’And from what we have seen in the lab, the neuronal damage [it causes] is totally reversible. He says that a drug could reverse the effects of the gene and the mental retardation. ’Theoretically, you can treat Down’s at any stage. This means that even patients at a fairly advanced age could be treated,’ he says. Down’s researcher Stylianos Antonarakis of the University of Geneva says that the find is fantastic. ’We have always thought that there are probably only a few genes involved in mental retardation, so it is feasible that a single gene may be responsible. And it seems perfectly possible to down-regulate that gene using RNAi or other methods,’ he says.

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