22 May 2009

People with Down Syndrome rarely get cancer

[S]cientists have long known that people with [Down] condition rarely get most types of cancer. Now, a Harvard study has identified one of the factors that protects people with Down Syndrome against tumors. The discovery could lead to new methods of protecting all patients against cancer.
Down Syndrome subjects have a third chromosome 21. Genes on this extra chromosome code for a substance that suppresses "vascular endothelial growth factor," thus inhibiting the creation of new blood vessels needed to support tumor growth. Studies will now be undertaken to see if this factor can be independently manipulated in patients without Down Syndrome.


  1. heard this on the bbc on npr/pri on the way to work the other morning. i was absolutely blown away. man, i am so keeping my fingers crossed

  2. This could be amazing. I hadn't heard about it before!

    Nice picture, by the way. What a beautiful kid.

  3. 2 sided sword. I'd have to look into it, but having the ability to grow new blood vessels is kind of an important feature for some people. So this would not be good for the general populous to prevent cancer.

    Just one example, man had hereditary disposition towards the blocking of his coronary arteries. Well, it happened right on schedule without him knowing it. But he was a marathon runner... so the body responded by growing new blood vessels to feed his cardiac muscle. When the eventual acute myocardial infarction (massive heart attack) happened it was nowhere bad as it could have been. And it did not kill him like it did to his father at the same age.

    But yeah, if you have cancer, this might be something that could make a difference.

  4. @Dubya - I think that the changes that sometimes occur in cardiac tissue actually represent a recruitment of preexisting vessels (diversion of blood flow, enlargement of previously small arterioles) rather than an actual growing of new vessels as occurs in a neoplasm.

    But I'm not sure.


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