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Nuts & Bolts

July 19, 2013

Down syndrome's extra chromosome silenced in lab cells

(Continued)

Philip Gregory, the chief scientific officer of Sangamo, said the company plans to continue working with Lawrence's group. He declined to say whether Sangamo would have any special rights over discoveries made using the technique.

While women who are 35 and older have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with Down syndrome, about 80 percent of babies with the disorder are born to women who are younger than that, according to the CDC. The error that causes Down syndrome occurs when either the sperm or egg is formed by the parents, so that the baby ends up with 47, rather than 46, chromosomes in every cell of the body. Why these errors happen isn't known.

The average life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome is 55 years, according to the National Association for Down Syndrome, an advocacy organization, though some people live longer.

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