A recent research points to the possibility of targeting 21 gene OLIG of the human chromosome. The research, conducted at Rutgers University, has made progress towards understanding the extra chromosome that causes down syndrome. Cognitive function in individuals with down syndrome is impaired due to the presence of 21 gene OLIG. The researchers intend to target this gene to help individuals with down syndrome.
Individuals with down syndrome have an extra pair of chromosomes that interferes with the cognitive and physical development. Normal babies are born with 23 pairs of chromosomes. In babies with down syndrome, there is an added copy of the 21st pair of chromosomes. The researchers plan to target 21 gene OLIG2 during prenatal therapy. This could assist them in reversing the process of abnormal brain development.
Decoding Human Neurons
The two brain neurons, inhibitory and excitatory, help in improving the cognitive function in individuals. The researchers, thus, want to target these neurons during pre-birth testing. Discussions around down-syndrome have often pointed to the need for improved prenatal procedures. Hence, the new research could be a means to bridge the gap between medical conceptualization and testing.
Research Methodology and Findings
The researchers collected samples of skin cells for people with down syndrome. The cells were reprogrammed to pluripotent stem cells for the purpose of testing and analysis. Human-induced pluripotent stem cells resemble embryonic stem cells, and this was a good cue for researchers. These cells act as tremendous test samples for disease modelling and drug development. The researchers also used a 3D model of a mouse brain and a model of human brain.
It was found that both, the mouse brain and the 3D model, overproduced inhibitory neurons. This neuron led to cognitive lags in subject mice, and led researchers to draw important inferences. The researchers are in the process of developing a mechanism to subside the effect of inhibitory neurons.