This year the conference theme was “From Innovation to Impact”, highlighting the Society’s dedication to world-class innovation in basic research and translational medicine, as well as to improvements in women’s reproductive health and healthcare.
The study results presented by Dr Young showed the enhancement of neurological differentiation and gene expression specific to neural development by dexamethasone (DX) administration to cultured amniotic fluid stem cells from 1 of 5 trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) fetuses. Previous studies by Dr Young’s team using human amniotic fluid derived stem cells demonstrated a potential for enhanced fetal brain development by administration of DX to amniotic fluid derived stem cells from euploid fetuses. This study found a specific genome which may identify T21 fetuses whose neurological development could be improved with DX therapy. Down Syndrome children who grow to adulthood suffer from early onset of severe Alzheimer’s Disease due to deposition of amyloid protein in the brain. The gene for amyloid was suppressed in the cells responding to DX, possibly offering some Alzheimer’s patients potential benefit from DX therapy.
This study is the first to discover a gene pattern in Down Syndrome that describes a possible method to treat Down Syndrome in utero as well as Alzheimer’s disease.