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Tumour Suppressor Genes In Down Syndrome Patients Guard Against Breast Cancer

by Medindia Content Team on  February 6, 2008 at 3:50 PM Cancer News   - G J E 4
Tumour Suppressor Genes In Down Syndrome Patients Guard Against Breast Cancer
A protein suspected to play a role in Down syndrome (DS) is believed to contribute towards the treatment of breast cancer, according to a study by researchers at the Texas University.
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It is already known that Down syndrome is caused when an individual has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome, giving them a total of three instead of the normal chromosome pair.

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And now with advancements in medical care, people with Down Syndrome are living longer and healthier lives.

Along with this improvement came the observation that individuals with Down Syndrome have a significant decrease in risk for several types of tumours.

The most surprising observation is that women with Down Syndrome are 10-25 times less likely to develop breast cancer.

Scientists believe that this effect is due to the presence of one or more 'tumour suppressor' genes on chromosome 21. However, the identity of such genes has not been known, until now.

"Years of research into the genetics of Down Syndrome have helped us to discover a very important gene on chromosome 21," said Dr. Weston Porter, associate professor in the Veterinary Integrative Biosciences Department.

"This gene, called Single-minded 2 or SIM2 is thought to play an important role in Down Syndrome by regulating neuron growth in the developing brain. Based on its developmental role, we hypothesized that SIM2 may also be involved in breast cancer, which is essentially a disease of uncontrolled growth," he added.

SIM2 is lost or suppressed in a majority of human breast tumours, and if the gene is deleted, it triggers rapid tumour growth in mice.

SIM2 is lost or suppressed in a majority of human breast tumours, and if the gene is deleted, it triggers rapid tumour growth in mice.

This same protein, which might hold so much promise for breast cancer treatment, is also thought to contribute to the negative effects of Down Syndrome.

Although the study is in its early stages, it still represents a promising weapon in the fight against breast cancer as it sheds light on a previously unknown target for which to shoot.

The study is published in the journals Molecular and Cellular Biology and Carcinogenesis.

Source: ANI
CGP/L
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