This site has reported on breakthroughs regarding cures for cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Autism, Alzheimers, and many other once-thought incurable conditions. A recent report by Nature magazine may provide the craziest medical breakthrough yet, as researchers at The University of Massachusettes announced that they discovered a method to “silence” the extra chromosome responsible for Down Syndrome. In theory, this amazing medical breakthrough could be the first step in preventing future cases of Down Syndrome.
In the study, led by Jeanne Lawrence, researches utilized a manufactured gene titled “Xist” to actively manipulate the extra chromosome responsible for Down Syndrome. The Xist gene, when inserted into a Down-Syndrome host body, instructs the body to encase the additional chromosome, thus restricting the chromosome from producing unwanted proteins. Xist does not eliminate the extra chromosome, but instead disengages it from the rest of the body. There will likely never be a way to eliminate the extra chromosome from forming, but for the first time there is hope that the extra chromosome could be neutralized so that it could not negatively impact the physical and mental state of the carrier.
More than anything, Jeanne Lawrence hopes that this breakthrough will reopen the book regarding scientific research on Down Syndrome. She said, ““Down syndrome is underfunded. We’re hoping what we’ve done here will accelerate multiple avenues of research, and maybe give more hope to the community.”
Until now, Down Syndrome has remained a mysterious illness will few known causes or treatments. Because the concept of curing Down Syndrome in any form seemed impossible, precious few groups have received funding to study it.
As of right now, the cure for Down Syndrome is still far away. However, this breakthrough regarding how the extra chromosome in Down Syndrome patients can be controlled may usher in a new era regarding medicine’s understanding of the disease. Lawrence admits that an overall cure for Down Syndrome is still unlikely, but further understanding of the ways this extra chromosomes can be controlled and manipulated in Down-Syndrome patients could lead to longer, healthier lives for those with the condition.