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Research points to potential in utero treatment for Down’s syndrome

Posted Jun 12 2009 6:43pm

Researchers from Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University have published a paper that suggests it may be possible to develop prenatal therapies for Down’s syndrome.

According to the press release, the research suggests that “amniotic fluid surrounding Down syndrome fetuses shows oxidative stress, a condition that could harm fetal cells and play a role in affected individuals”.

The research prompted some surprising new findings:

“The longstanding assumption has been that proteins produced by the additional copy of chromosome 21 were almost exclusively responsible for the atypical development and function associated with the syndrome. A surprising aspect of the findings was that the molecular abnormalities observed were predominantly produced by genes on the other chromosomes.”

The release continues: “Researchers are examining amniotic cells to determine if they show similar genomic profiles to the cell-free material in the fluid. If that is the case, they will begin to look at the effectiveness of anti-oxidant compounds as potential treatment in vitro.”

Of course, any potential treatment is years away, but this is an interesting development nonetheless. I previously covered the potential for in utero treatment here.

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