Study re­veals three new genes linked to Alzheimer’s

The Herald - - NEWS - HE­LEN MCAR­DLE

A STUDY analysing the DNA of more than 300,000 in­di­vid­u­als has un­cov­ered three new genes as­so­ci­ated with Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

Two of the genes are al­ready tar­geted by drugs used to treat other con­di­tions, paving the way to po­ten­tial new av­enues for re­search into the de­gen­er­a­tive con­di­tion.

There are cur­rently no treat­ments to slow or stop the pro­gres­sion of Alzheimer’s dis­ease, the most com­mon form of de­men­tia.

The re­search, led by sci­en­tists at Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity in col­lab­o­ra­tion with col­leagues in Aus­tralia and New York, sifted through DNA sam­ples of 300,000 peo­ple held in the UK Biobank and honed in on those whose mother or fa­ther had de­vel­oped the dis­ease.

On an in­di­vid­ual level, hav­ing a par­ent with Alzheimer’s dis­ease is not linked to a sig­nif­i­cantly greater risk of suc­cumb­ing to the ill­ness. How­ever, since most of the vol­un­teers who have do­nated ge­netic sam­ples to the Biobank as part of re­search stud­ies are com­par­a­tively young, there are very few be­long­ing to Alzheimer’s pa­tients.

Com­bin­ing data from thou­sands of peo­ple whose par­ents de­vel­oped the dis­ease en­abled the re­searchers to pinpoint ge­netic pat­terns relevant to the dis­ease. The team then com­bined re­sults from their new anal­y­sis with data from an ex­ist­ing ge­netic study in­volv­ing 70,000 peo­ple with and with­out Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

The find­ings high­light three new gene vari­ants that may play a role in Alzheimer’s risk, in ad­di­tion to around 30 pre­vi­ously dis­cov­ered.

Dr Ric­cardo Mar­i­oni, an ex­pert in ge­net­ics at Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity, said: “New ge­netic dis­cov­er­ies can pro­vide vi­tal clues to the bi­o­log­i­cal pro­cesses in­volved in Alzheimer’s, but our ge­netic make-up 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.”

Dr Sara Imari­sio, head of re­search at Alzheimer’s Re­search UK, which part-funded the study, said: “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.”

„ New study has found three new genes linked to Alzheimer’s on­set.

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