New NIH grant awards boost funding for research on Down syndrome

Sept. 26, 2019

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded approximately $35 million in new grants in fiscal year (FY) 2019 to advance research on Down syndrome through the Investigation of Co-occurring Conditions Across the Lifespan to Understand Down Syndrome (INCLUDE) project.

These awards bolster total funding for Down syndrome research in FY 2019 to an estimated $77 million. INCLUDE is a trans-NIH effort with participation from many NIH institutes and centers. Research funded by INCLUDE will investigate critical health and quality-of-life needs for individuals with Down syndrome, while at the same time explore co-occurring conditions with individuals who do not have Down syndrome.

“Individuals with Down syndrome are both affected by and protected against many of the conditions that afflict the general population,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. “By improving our understanding of the basic biological mechanisms of Down syndrome and making clinical trials more accessible and specifically tailored to individuals with Down Syndrome, we expect that research from the INCLUDE project will benefit everyone.”

Down syndrome is associated with intellectual and physical challenges resulting from the presence of an extra, full or partial, chromosome 21. Individuals with Down syndrome experience various rates of cognitive disability and in later years, dementia resembling Alzheimer’s disease, as well as hearing loss, congenital heart defects and sleep apnea. Autism and epilepsy are prevalent in the population, as are autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease. However, individuals with Down syndrome infrequently develop solid tumors, such as breast or prostate cancer, or have heart attacks despite having multiple risk factors, such as obesity and type 1 diabetes.

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