UCI Studies Association Between Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s
UC Irvine (California) Institute for Memory Impairment and Neurological Disorders (MIND) has done extensive study of the cause and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. The interesting thing for families affected by mental decline and Down syndrome, is that MIND studies both Alzheimer’s Disease and Down syndrome. The two programs are independent, but sometimes their research intersects.
UCI’s findings are complicated of course, but as I understand it, researchers have found a link between Alzheimer’s and a certain protein called APP (Amyloid Precursor Protien). Production of APP takes place on the 21st chromosome and (as you know) people with Down syndrome have an extra 21st chromosome in every cell of their body. This results in 30% increase in the production of APP in a person with Down syndrome, thereby increasing their likelihood of early onset dementia. Now, this is my layman’s version in a nutshell. I’m not really sure if my description is even close to accurate, but I’m sure someone out there will set me straight in the comments! (Please do!)
If you want to read UCIrvine’s findings, here is a good place to start:
Learning about healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease from people with Down syndrome