A study led by Edinburgh University scientists in collaboration with colleagues from Australia and from New York, shows that there are three new genes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, and it cannot be slowed or stopped. So far, there are no treatments for it. But finding the new genes linked to the disease could help researchers with discovering which drugs can treat it.
Two Genes Are Already Targeted By Drugs to Treat Other Conditions
The researchers used DNA samples from the UK Biobank. They gathered 300,000 samples from people that had parents with the disease. Having a parent with this disease doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is more at risk of getting ill. However, the majority of the volunteers to donate genetic samples were young. Only a few of the samples belonged to patients with Alzheimer’s.
The team combined data from people with parents with Alzheimer’s to find out the genetic patterns in the disease.
Researchers discovered three new gene variants, over the 30 that were previously found. An expert in genetics at Edinburgh University, Dr. Riccardo Marioni said:
“New genetic discoveries can provide vital clues to the biological processes involved in Alzheimer’s, but our genetic makeup is not the only factor that affects our risk of the disease. We are now working to combine genetic data and information about people’s lifestyle to produce more comprehensive and personalised picture of Alzheimer’s risk.”
A New Alzheimer’s Treatment?
Dr. Sara Imarisio is the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK and she partly funded the study. She explains what the researchers will do next:
“The next step will be for molecular scientists to assess how these genes might contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s and fit in to the existing picture of the disease. Interestingly, two of these genes are targeted by drugs that are used to treat other conditions, signalling a potential direction for research into new Alzheimer’s treatments.”
This study comes after a previous one which proved that exercise has no effect in slowing cognitive decline.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.