In a conversation with my daughter yesterday, she told me that scientists have made a connection between Down syndrome persons and a resistance to cancer. And, this morning, I checked the blog of ethicist, Wesley Smith, and found he had reported this. That man doesn't miss much!
The original story is posted here in the BBC.
Scientists may have solved the mystery of why people with Down's syndrome seem to have a lower risk of some cancers. The extra copy of chromosome 21 which causes Down's appears to contain a gene that protects from solid cancerous tumours, tests on mice suggest. The gene seems to interfere with signals a tumour relies on to grow. The finding raises hope of new ways to prevent and treat cancer.
The study, conducted at the Children's Hospital of Boston and published in the journal Nature,
showed that having an extra copy of one of the genes located on chromosome 21 - a gene called Dscr1 - is sufficient to slow cancer growth in mice.
The gene seems to work in combination with another gene also found on chromosome 21 to interfere with the signals a tumour relies upon to stimulate growth of its own blood vessels. Without those vessels feeding the tumour with its own supply of blood it cannot thrive.
Dr Kairbaan Hodivala-Dilke, a Cancer Research UK scientist at Queen Mary, University of London, said: "This finding raises several important questions about the roles of other chromosome 21 genes that might help regulate tumour growth. "The next stage is to think about how we might be able to exploit this research to improve cancer treatments in the future."
Let's hope that the research will not proceed as most present research does - i.e. exploit that group of people in order to benefit others. In a society that doesn't see a problem with embryonic stem cell research, I can't see that researchers will balk at aborting Down syndrome babies in order to reap their chromosomes for the health of others.
I hope I am wrong and that instead this new finding will cause scientists to respect those with this handicap. I recall the words of Gianna Jessen, a survivor of a saline abortion, who has cerebral palsy: "There are things that you will only be able to learn by the weakest among us." - in more ways than one, it would seem.
h/t Wesley J. Smith