Down Syndrome Gene Holds Cancer Clue

Downs patients long seen to have lower deadly tumor risk
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2009 11:39 AM CDT
Down Syndrome Gene Holds Cancer Clue
A gene on chromosome 21, of which Downs patients have three copies, can fight dangerous tumors.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Scientists have noticed for years that Down syndrome patients are far less likely to die from solid tumors—and now, scientists in Boston think they know why. Down syndrome patients’ extra chromosome holds a gene that helps cut blood flow to tumors, restricting their growth, the Globe reports. “Individuals with Downs potentially hold a secret that might lead to quite substantial and revolutionary new treatments for cancer,” said a doctor.

The discovery came after years of research and experimentation: While one researcher located the gene on chromosome 21, experts elsewhere were discovering the gene’s ability to stifle blood flow to tumors. Genetic research in mice helped cement the new finding. Cancer treatments of the future could emulate Down syndrome in cancer patients—and some experts say the discovery could lead to a pill aimed at cancer prevention.
(Read more cancer stories.)

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