1) New Alzheimers Gene Discovery 2) Gene Discovery in the Fight Against AlzheimersScientists have made progress in the battle against Alzheimer's disease by identifying a gene that nearly doubles the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer's. Late-onset Alzheimer's occurs in people over the age of 65 and is the most common form of this devastating disease.The finding of this new study are important because they contributes to scientists' understanding of the disease and how it is affected by genes.The World Health Organization says the number of Alzheimer's sufferers is expected to nearly double from 18 million to 34 million by 2025, making it essential to develop better treatments.In the new study, researchers examined the genes of Alzheimer's sufferers and genes from people who don't have the disease. They looked for tiny differences, or variants, in the full DNA sequence. Researchers found around nine percent of those suffering from late-onset Alzheimer's had a specific difference in the gene MTHFD1L on chromosome six. Only five percent of non-sufferers had this variant.Previous studies have already found one genetic contributor to late-onset Alzheimer's which has a stronger influence than MTHFD1L. But scientists think the newly-pinpointed gene variant may affect how blood vessels in the brain function. The MTHFD1L gene may also influence levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the blood. An increased level of homocysteine has previously been linked to an increased risk of late-onset Alzheimer's.
Scientists are cautiously optimistic about the implications of this new study. Other similar studies have looked promising, but subsequent studies could not repeat the findings. Dr. Ron Peterson, director of the Mayo Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in Rochester, Minnesota, says, "The strength of his study is it includes a large number of subjects, they looked at a large number of [DNA sequence variations], and they replicated previously reported findings, which gives you confidence that they are correct." Here's hoping this is one positive step on the way forward to beating the disease.
Reference URL: http://www.healthfinder.gov/news/newsstory.aspx?docid=637979