“Scientists have corrected the genetic fault that causes Down's syndrome – albeit in isolated cells – raising the prospect of a radical therapy for the disorder,” states Ian Sample, The Guardian.
Through a number of experiments, US researchers have found a way to take the cells from people diagnosed with DS (Down’s syndrome) and shut down the extra chromosomes. While treatment for the disorder is still far off, this is the first big step towards a “chromosome therapy” for DS.
Between one in a 1000 and one in 1100 births are DS babies, most with learning difficulties and those who inherit the disorder are subject to heart defects, bowel and blood disorders, and thyroid problems.
"This will accelerate our understanding of the cellular defects in Down's syndrome and whether they can be treated with certain drugs," said Jeanne Lawrence, who led the team at the University of Massachusetts (The Guardian).
Researches discuss how this is the first major step towards potentially developing chromosome therapy.
Nevertheless, while a chromosome therapy could potentially be a way to shut down the extra chromosome that is responsible for Down’s syndrome, there would be a number of practical and ethical issues. The editing of the genome would have to happen at the embryo or fetus level, and this is hard to imagine possible or allowed in today’s society.
Story thanks to The Guardian, http://gu.com/p/3hcjn.