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Friday, 17 February 2012

Research: stem cells donated by people with Down syndrome sed to model Alzheimer’s

A good example of how people with Down syndrome are helping to develop knowledge about conditions that will benefit both those and without Down syndrome:

Innovative way to study Alzheimer's disease developed by Cambridge and Boston scientists.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have developed a new and innovative way to study Alzheimer’s disease in the lab. The stem cell technique, which allows researchers to track the disease over a matter of weeks, could provide a valuable tool for scientists to unravel the complexity of Alzheimer’s and test potential new treatments. The findings, funded by Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Wellcome Trust, will be published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The scientists used skin cells donated from healthy volunteers and those with Down’s syndrome and turned them into stem cells. These stem cells were then used to generate networks of functioning nerve cells in the lab, which resemble the complex wiring of cells in the human cerebral cortex. The cortex, which makes up over three quarters of the brain, houses many of the nerve cells involved in memory and thinking and suffers particular damage during Alzheimer’s.  ... read on at University of Cambridge Research News.    

Online abstract of the research paper published by Science Translational Medicine, Rapid Publication, 15th February 2012, Vol 4 # 121:

A Human Stem Cell Model of Early Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology in Down Syndrome, Yichen Shi, Peter Kirwan, James Smith, Glenn MacLean, Stuart H. Orkin and Frederick J. Livesey 

An article published last week by University of Cambridge Research News describes another current study investigating why people with Down syndrome are more likely to develop dementia earlier, under the supervision of Prof Tony Holland, who will deliver the Trevor Parmenter Lecture in Sydney in March.      

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