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Down's syndrome oxidative stress findings

Finding drugs to alter the expression of genes signalling oxidative stress could lead to the prenatal treatment of some Down's syndrome symptoms

A new study adds weight to the theory that finding drugs to alter the expression of genes signalling oxidative stress could lead to the prenatal treatment of some Down's syndrome symptoms.

While they are unaware of exactly how they disrupt development and lead to Down's syndrome symptoms, scientists have found that foetuses with the syndrome express some genes differently. Now, a team at Tufts Medical Centre, led by Diana Bianchi, have sampled the amniotic fluid of foetuses with and without Down's syndrome and found 414 genes that are expressed differently in those with the disorder.

It is acknowledged that Down's syndrome is caused when some or all of an extra copy of chromosome 21 is present and it has also been known for several years that there is a link between oxidative stress and the condition. A number of the genes identified in this latest sample showed damage to cells from the occurrence of reactive oxygen products of metabolism.

Roger Reeves, a physiologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, agrees that mitigating the effects of oxidative stress in the womb might be helpful, but cautions that it is likely to be just one of the contributing factors to the symptoms displayed.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS).

9th June 2009

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