Federal officials are committing millions of new dollars to Down syndrome research and they say even more money may be on the way.

The National Institutes of Health said this month that it has awarded $22.2 million to studying the chromosomal disorder and related issues.

The grants are part of the agency’s INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE, or INCLUDE, project. The initiative, which launched in 2018, was spurred by a congressional directive and is aimed at addressing health and quality-of-life issues among those with the condition.

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With the new funding, the NIH said that its investment in the chromosomal disorder for 2018 is now at $59 million. The agency indicated that it plans to up its spending on the condition in 2019, if money is available.

“We have a unique opportunity to improve health outcomes for those with Down syndrome by increasing their inclusion in research,” said Francis Collins, director of the NIH. “People with Down syndrome are at risk for many of the same conditions as the general public such as Alzheimer’s disease, sleep apnea, heart disease and autism, and it is my hope that this effort will provide meaningful insights to find treatments that benefit both populations.”

The funding is going to clinical trials addressing co-occurring conditions that are common in those with Down syndrome as well as research projects that address the basic science of the condition or develop a large study population so as to understand the disorder at various developmental ages, the NIH said.

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