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Understanding of Down’s syndrome may aid breast cancer therapy

Posted in Scientific research, Therapeutic treatments by Matt at WelcometoIllinois on January 9, 2009

Here’s a pretty interesting theory on how the understanding of Down’s syndrome may help in the development of therapy for breast cancer sufferers.

Apparently breast cancer is rare amongst women with Down’s syndrome, possibly because of the extra copy of chromosome 21, which is “where the gene that codes for the antiangiogenic protein Endostatin is located”.

The theory is that treating people with Endostatin “a Down syndrome level” could be a therapy for early stage breast cancer that indefinitely prolongs remission and makes chemotherapy or hormone therapy unnecessary.

From the perspective of attitudes towards Down’s syndrome the interesting thing about this is that it is only possible to put forward this theory now that women with Down’s syndrome are living to an age when it is most common (50 to 69 according to NetDoctor).

A study conducted in 2000 indicated that while people with Down’s syndrome have an increased risk of leukemia, they have a lower incidence of many other forms of cancer, including breast cancer.

Meanwhile a year ago a study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine indicated that a gene called Ets2 that sits on the 21st chromosome may, alongside endostatin, be key.

“If there were no such thing as Down syndrome, we probably wouldn’t have found this because it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to take these oncogenes that we thought were genes that cause cancer and try to express them at high levels to try to prevent cancer. But that’s what happens,” said researcher Roger Reeves. “People with Down syndrome have now given us all the possibility of lowering the incidence of cancer in everybody.”


3 Responses

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  1. […] Waking up in Illinois is discussing Down syndrome and breast cancer. The good news is that our daughters with DS will probably never get breast cancer. A protective protein, Endostatin, is coded for on Chromosome 21 and therefore at higher levels in DS. It’s cool that breast cancer researchers are looking to DS to plan effective treatments. […]

  2. […] previously reported on how a better understanding of Down’s syndrome may aid breast cancer […]

  3. Andrew said, on June 6, 2012 at 12:05 am

    my wife was born with mosaic downs and has just recently been diagnosed with breast cancer

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