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Genet Med. 2009 Sep;11(9):611-6. doi: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e3181b2e34c.

The 50th anniversary of the discovery of trisomy 21: the past, present, and future of research and treatment of Down syndrome.

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Institut Jérôme Lejeune, Paris, France.


Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder resulting from the presence of all or part of an extra Chromosome 21. It is a common birth defect, the most frequent and most recognizable form of mental retardation, appearing in about 1 of every 700 newborns. Although the syndrome had been described thousands of years before, it was named after John Langdon Down who reported its clinical description in 1866. The suspected association of Down syndrome with a chromosomal abnormality was confirmed by Lejeune et al. in 1959. Fifty years after the discovery of the origin of Down syndrome, the term "mongolism" is still inappropriately used; persons with Down syndrome are still institutionalized. Health problems associated with that syndrome often receive no or little medical care, and many patients still die prematurely in infancy or early adulthood. Nevertheless, working against this negative reality, community-based associations have lobbied for medical care and research to support persons with Down syndrome. Different Trisomy 21 research groups have already identified candidate genes that are potentially involved in the formation of specific Down syndrome features. These advances in turn may help to develop targeted medical treatments for persons with Trisomy 21. A review on those achievements is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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