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Research Reveals How Down Syndrome Shields Against Cancer
Date:5/20/2009

mors develop the blood supply necessary to their growth and survival.

But the question remains: Will any of this information end up helping cancer patients?

"We now have some 10,000 targets for tumors but we sure don't have 10,000 anti-cancer drugs," Frankel pointed out. "We're trying to work with investigators to get drugs or proteins or nucleic acids that could then be used to try it out in patients, [but] the activity in that area is very, very little. Drug companies are very reluctant to try these new targets without simple approaches."

Another expert agreed that the road to any effective cancer therapy is an arduous and uncertain one.

"I think we need to study the field of angiogenesis but I also think it's pretty clear that targeting it and effectively manipulating it in patient disease, it's not the home run people thought it would be. It does help, and in some cases is pretty amazing but we're still learning where that's the case," said Dr. Jeffrey A. Toretsky, an associate professor in the departments of oncology and pediatrics at Georgetown University's Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, D.C.

Take the example of Avastin, the prototypical anti-angiogenesis drug. "It's only showing a marginal benefit, and it has side effects," Toretsky said.

As for this contribution to the angiogenesis literature, he said that "the question I always pose is how could you plausibly think of manipulating this gene in a way that's technically possible today and not something to happen in the future. Otherwise this becomes something to think about, but you're going to have to think about the next step."

More information

There's more on Down syndrome at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.



SOURCES: Sandra Ryeom, Ph.D., cancer resea
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