Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21. Scientists have announced that they have been able to add about 90% of the 250 genes on human chromosome 21 into mouse cells and have been able to create a strain of mice that carries this human chromosome and is the closest recreation of Down syndrome to date.
The mice have problems similar to those encountered by individuals with Down, and includes problems with memory, brain function and in the way the heart has formed.
It is hope that having this model will allow researchers to understand more about the condition and why people with Down are more susceptible to some conditions like leukaemias and autoimmune disorders.
O’Doherty A et al., An Aneuploid Mouse Strain Carrying Human Chromosome 21 with Down Syndrome Science 23 September 2005: 2033-2037
Aneuploidy – One or more chromosomes above or below the normal chromosome number.