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Down syndrome reveals cancer clue

May 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new discovery about why people with Down syndrome rarely develop cancer could lead researchers in a promising direction in the search for treatments for the disease.Harvard University scientists found people with Down syndrome have an extra copy of a gene that blocks the cancer tumor's ability to feed itself. The gene may also explain why people with Down syndrome are less likely to have hardened arteries and eye disease linked to diabetes.

People with Down syndrome have a third copy of chromosome 21, which gives them extra copies of more than 230 genes. Down syndrome is a leading cause of mental retardation. It effects up to one in every 700 births.

The Harvard University study is published in the journal Nature.

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