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Government researchers say they have developed a new injection that could curb the effects of Down Syndrome.

Dr. Catherine Spong headed the National Institutes of Health research team that conducted the tests and published their results in the latest issue of New Scientist.

According to their report, the researchers developed an injection based on two proteins that they have found can help brains grow normally.

People afflicted with Down Syndrome make fewer of the proteins. They tested the idea on mice and say they injected the proteins into an unborn mouse to reduce the effects of Down Syndrome during pregnancy and had success.

If the results can be replicated in humans, the new shot could help reduce the abortion rates of babies with the condition – abortion of Down babies runs as high as 90%.

The scientists genetically engineered the mice to have pups who had Down and gave them the shot midway through the pregnancy. They found the mice given the shots reached the same developmental milestones as mice born without the condition.

Spong said a “significant amount” of the developmental delay had been prevented due to the shots and that they had normal levels of the ADNP protein that Down causes to be underdeveloped. They are now watching the mice to see if they reach the same levels of development in their later years.

Tests on humans are still years away but observers say they could result in a reduced number of abortions.

Still Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down’s Syndrome Association in England, told the London Daily Mail that people should be cautious about calling the shots a cure for Down Syndrome.

And Josephine Quintavalle, of the pro-life group Comment On Reproductive Ethics, told the newspaper that she’s concerned about the eugenics component of the shots and how it may lead society to view the disabled negatively.

“If it is life saving, it is one thing. But if your intervention is just to ensure that somebody conforms to our idea of an ideal standard, there are an awful lot of issues to be weighed,” she told the newspaper.

[25Nov08, Ertelt, Washington, DC]