World Experts Meet in Cambridge to Discuss Treatments for Down Syndrome
The treatability of Down Syndrome is gaining evidence and support, but remains the "holy grail" for parents and doctors. A rare gathering of expert scientists will plan the next stage in human treatments for Down syndrome. The wider context of the impact on people with Alzheimer's with be discussed.
There are at least 30,000 children and adults with Down Syndrome (DS) in the UK and about 700 new babies every year. For years it has been thought that nothing can been done to help this group of people who face difficulties with learning and memory as well as increased risk of physical problems like congenital heart disease as a result of inheriting an extra copy of chromosome 21.
What has felt impossible by most has become a reality for scientists at the cutting edge of understanding genes and their interplay on the developing brain. "Let's define the genes that are responsible...and let's treat those genes," Dr William Mobley, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at Stanford University, has recently said. He adds that hopefully "...there are two or three different targets that are very treatable."
The wider hope is that it will help everyone who develops Alzheimer's Disease, as all people with DS show brain changes of Alzheimer's.
The conference will be opened by Madam Jerome Lejeune, wife of the late Prof. Jerome Lejeune who dedicated his life to the discovery of a cure for Down Syndrome. His work continues at the Foundation Jerome Lejeune in Paris, with the support Dr. Mobley will be chairing the day and the aim of the gathering will be creation of international research alliances to speed this life changing work.
The conference has been organised by a UK charity, the Downs Syndrome Research Foundation UK, founded to get DS up the agenda for the researchers and the Government. Dr Elliott, the chair of the DSRF, concludes "We are at a crucial moment in the field and possibilities for the future are hopeful. Join us and see why."