Skip to content Skip to navigation

Clues from Down syndrome hint at new Alzheimer’s finding

Cartoon of head with floating DNA & colorful bubbles around

Photo by Carlosgardel

May 3 2022

By Christopher Vaughan

For a long time, common diseases (think Alzheimer's, cancer and other ailments) were thought to arise mostly from molecular or genetic mishaps. But scientists are finding that there seems to be increased involvement of an unexpected culprit: stem cells.

Nine years ago, Stanford oncologist Michael Clarke, MD, made a connection between stem cells and Down syndrome: He showed in a mouse model of Down syndrome that many signature elements of the disorder -- including physical deformities and cognitive impairment -- were caused by reduced stem cell activity.

Clarke has now discovered that a molecule associated with Down syndrome may also be partly responsible for the pathologies of Alzheimer's disease.