USA Today‘s Liz Szabo writes that adults with Down syndrome are teaching scientists about the genetic roots of aging.
Adults with Down syndrome are more likely than others to develop some health problems, like Alzheimer’s disease, while they are much less likely to be affected by others, like heart attacks, strokes and solid tumors. Even though people with Down syndrome tend to get the plaques and tangles that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s early in life, their brains appear to repair and compensate for the damage for decades.
Scientists are studying them in hopes of finding new ways to combat disease in the general population. “It’s an interesting detective story,” says Ira Lott, head of pediatric neurology at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine. “People with Down syndrome are unique when it comes to many aspects of aging.”
(Photo of Marybeth Solinski celebrating her 59th birthday from USA Today)