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Down syndrome cataracts 'could be key to dementia diagnosis'

Down syndrome cataracts 'could be key to dementia diagnosis'
21st May 2010

A new scientific study claims that the same amyloid beta protein that causes dementia in the brain builds up in the eyes of people with Down syndrome.

People with Down syndrome often develop Alzheimer's disease-like symptoms by the age of 30, which is due to the fact that they have an "extra copy" of a gene that increase production of this protein, claim researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine.

The study, published in the journal Public Library of Science One, suggests that distinctive cataracts specific to this protein appear much earlier than normal in people with Down syndrome.

It is therefore hoped that this breakthrough could lead to new techniques for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

Commenting on the study, the Alzheimer's Society's head of research Dr Susanne Sorenson said: "Studies like this one offer hope for finding new ways of detecting Alzheimer's disease before symptoms become apparent.

"This could help with developing treatments such as vaccines to help transform people's lives."

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