Talks and Q&A with Dr Shahid Zaman and Dr Stephanie Brown on the links between Down’s syndrome and dementia. Siblings, John and Rebecca, also shared their experience of taking part in research.
More than 60% of people with Down’s syndrome develop Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia – before the age of 60.
A person with Down’s syndrome has an extra copy of chromosome 21, meaning they get an extra copy of the genes kept on this chromosome. One of these genes makes the protein called amyloid, which builds up in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s.
As people with Down’s syndrome have an extra copy of the gene that makes amyloid, they can develop excess amyloid in the brain, putting them at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and of doing so at an earlier age.
Watch back to hear from the experts who are working to find out more about the links between Down’s syndrome and dementia.
Dr Shahid Zaman is a consultant psychiatrist at the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Foundation NHS Trust. For over a decade he has led clinical investigations into dementia in people with Down’s syndrome. He is currently leading the Cambridge arm of a study known as ABC-DS (Alzheimer’s Biomarkers Consortium-Down Syndrome). ABC-DS is a USA-led longitudinal study taking place across multiple locations, aiming to understand how dementia develops in people with Down’s syndrome.
Dr Stephanie Brown is an Alzheimer’s Research UK research fellow interested in studying brain changes in people with Down’s syndrome using sophisticated brain scanning techniques. Recent advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) mean she can get much more detailed and precise measurements of brain structure and function. In her work, she aims to answer the question of how sleep quality affects brain changes in people with Down’s syndrome, a high-risk group for Alzheimer’s disease. This can inform the development of new treatments and preventions, as sleep is a promising target for therapies that may delay the onset and reduce the severity of Alzheimer’s in people with Down’s syndrome.