Friday, January 14, 2011

Researchers find protein linking Down's syndrome with Alzheimer's

People with Down's syndrome develop Alzheimer's disease much earlier than other people - often in their 30s. Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada have been investigating the link between Down's syndrome and Alzheimer's and have found that people with Down's syndrome produce too much of a protein called RCAN1 which sets off a chain reaction which kills neurons in the hippocampus and cortex. People with Down's syndrome have an extra copy of the gene which produces RCAN1 but the researchers also found raised levels of the protein in people with Alzheimer's who did not have Down's syndrome. The researchers thought the raised level of protein in this group could be due to strokes or high blood pressure.

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