3/21: World Down Syndrome Day

Translator’s note:  For many years several European countries have observed “Trisomy 21 Day” on March 21 to raise awareness about the genetic condition also called Down Syndrome.    Several months ago the United Nations instituted a “World Day of Trisomy 21”.  The following article is translated from the website of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation in Paris, which has pioneered research into and treatment of the mental deficiency associated with trisomy 21.  

[poster text]  “Trisomic… And then?  5-year-old Marie has a future!”


In observance of March 21, World Down Syndrome Day, which was just recently recognized by the U.N., the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation is preparing a report on the latest significant advances in therapeutic research on mental deficiencies of genetic origin.  Fifty years after the prestigious Kennedy Prize was awarded to Professor Jérôme Lejeune in 1962, the remarkable progress made in recent years confirms that it will be possible to treat trisomy 21.  Since it was created, the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation has played a decisive role on the international scene, making France a leader in the field of research on trisomy 21.  

International Trisomy 21 Day recognized by the U.N.:  Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On November 10, 2011, the United Nations declared March 21 “World Down Syndrome Day”.  The purpose of this day is to inform the public and to raise awareness about trisomy 21.  The date “3/21” is highly symbolic, referring directly to the 3 copies of chromosome 21 that is the cause of the syndrome and of the mental deficiency of patients with trisomy 21.  

Giant steps forward in therapeutic research:  the era of clinical trials

Several scientific research teams in different countries of the world work on trisomy 21 with the financial support of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation.  For the first time, clinical trials on trisomic patients have been launched.  Today there are five of them, as compared with only one last year.  What seemed unthinkable ten years ago has become possible today, and the promising results that have been observed suggest that treatments could be discovered within a decade.  The therapeutic objective is to develop preventive care or treatments that would improve and then normalize the mental functions of the patients.  Not long ago a new era began, the phase of therapeutic research.  Research teams working in parallel continue to explore the greatest possible number of avenues for potential treatments and are now conducting clinical trials on a larger scale.  

This year Professor Mara Dierssen is launching the second phase of her clinical trial on a larger sampling of patients in Barcelona.  This Spanish researcher was the winner of the 2010 International Sisley-Jérôme Lejeune Prize;  the 2011 award went to a great American neurologist, William Mobley, who originated the clinical trials currently being conducted by the Swiss laboratory ROCHE.  These two researchers had also participated in the International Jérôme Lejeune Days in April 2011, a scientific congress attended by 200 experts and interdisciplinary researchers, which was quite successful.  

In 2012 an affiliate of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation will be established in the United States.  This transatlantic project will allow the Foundation to follow more closely several very effective and innovative research teams.  

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About Michael J. Miller 127 Articles
Michael J. Miller Michael J. Miller translated Priesthood and Diaconate by Gerhard Ludwig Müller for Ignatius Press and Eucharist and Divorce: A Change in Doctrine? for the Pontifical John Paul II Institute.