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2007 Grant - Jenkins
Telomere Shortening in Older Individuals With Down Syndrome and Dementia
Edmund C. Jenkins, Ph.D.
Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene
Staten Island, New York
2007 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Every person has 23 pairs of chromosomes. A person with Down syndrome, however, has an extra copy of chromosome 21. Most individuals with Down syndrome develop the pathological features and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in middle age or older adulthood. Accordingly, much research has focused on ways of detecting dementia in people with Down syndrome at an early stage.
In several recent studies, Edmund C. Jenkins, Ph.D., and colleagues have found that individuals with both Down syndrome and dementia have shorter telomeres (end regions of chromosomes) than do people with Down syndrome but no dementia. Using cells from a group of Down syndrome participants, the researchers used various fluorescent imaging techniques to ascertain and confirm these results.
For the proposed grant, Dr. Jenkins and colleagues will undertake a more extensive study with Down syndrome participants to further validate their earlier findings. They also hope to learn more about the biological factors underlying the association between shorter telomeres and dementia.
Results of this research could lead to more effective procedures for diagnosing dementia in people with Down syndrome. Such procedures may enable physicians to better treat Down syndrome patients and improve their quality of life.