Researchers probing links between Down syndrome and Alzheimer's
- More than 75% of people with Down syndrome aged 65 or older have Alzheimer's disease (AD), sparking interest in potential links between the two conditions.
- A research collaboration is underway involving the Alzheimer's Association, the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, and the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. One of the goals is to develop a blood test to determine who is at risk for AD.
- At the same time, the National Institutes of Health has launched a $37 million initiative to identify biomarkers in the blood and brain which can help identify and track AD in people with Down syndrome.
As people with Down syndrome are living to an average age of 60, researchers have been able to uncover a link between the condition and AD. One hypothesis about the connection posits that the extra copy of chromosome 21—the same gene that produces amyloid plague—makes them more vulnerable to amyloid plaque build-up.
Researchers hope this insight can help drive the development of a vaccine, while also informing the creation of "memory homes" for people with both intellectual disabilities and AD.