Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook


 


 

Three new gene variants linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease

07 September 2009

By Ailsa Stevens

Appeared in BioNews 524

British and French researchers have this week announced the discovery of three new genes linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease, certain variations in which may increase a person's risk of developing the disease by 10-15 per cent. If new drugs could be developed to counter the effects of these mutations, it could help to prevent 20 per cent - the equivalent of 100,000 cases - of Alzheimer's disease in the UK per year, the researchers claim.

Two of the genes discovered - CLU, which produces clusterin, and CR1, which produces complement receptor 1 - have been shown to help prevent the build-up of 'plaques', comprising mostly of amyloid beta peptide, in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. The other gene, known as PICALM, produces a protein involved in the functioning of synapses - the connections between nerves - which are known to be involved in the formation of memories.

Inflammation of the brain is one of the key symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and previously this was thought to be triggered by the build up of plaques. However, this latest research suggests that the absence of functional CLU and CR1 proteins may be the primary cause, as both have been implicated in the regulation of immune response. The researchers have questioned whether common anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, could be used to reduce Alzheimer's disease risk in patients who carry certain variants in these genes.

Julie Williams, Professor of Psychological Medicine at Cardiff University and chief scientific advisor to the Alzheimer's Research Trust, who led the British study, told the Times newspaper: 'If we can combat the detrimental effects of these two genes, we estimate it could reduce the chances of people developing Alzheimer's by almost 20 per cent. This research is changing our understanding of what might cause the common form of Alzheimer's disease and could provide valuable new leads in the race to find treatments.'

The British-led study involved scanning the genomes of 16,000 patients, 4,000 of which had Alzheimer's, each for a total of 500,000 gene variants, making it the largest of its kind conducted on Alzheimer's disease patients to date. The French-led study similarly looked at DNA samples from more than 14,000 affected and unaffected patients.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, characterised by loss of memory and personality changes, which eventually lead to death. Late-onset Alzheimer's is the most common form of the disease, and approximately 700,000 people in the UK are affected by it. APOEe4, which was discovered 15 years ago, is the only other gene variant linked to 'common' late-onset Alzheimer's disease.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
BBC News Online | 06 September 2009
 
Medical News Today | 07 September 2009
 
The Daily Telegraph | 07 September 2009
 
Genetic breakthrough brings cure for Alzheimer's a step closer
The Times | 07 September 2009
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

18 August 2014 - by Chris Hardy 
A man without a working copy of a gene thought to be necessary for healthy brain function - and linked with Alzheimer's disease - has a 'grossly normal cognitive status'. Targeting this gene in people at-risk for the disease could help to protect them against it...
07 November 2011 - by Mehmet Fidanboylu 
The brain is a genetic mosaic of nerve cells that differ from each other slightly and change over time, according to a new study published in the journal Nature....
11 April 2011 - by Alison Cranage 
International scientists including researchers at Cardiff University, UK and the University of Pennsylvania, USA have discovered five genetic variations associated with Alzheimer's disease. The findings are published in two papers in the journal Nature Genetics...
07 March 2011 - by Alison Cranage 
Scientists at Northwestern University, Chicago have transformed stem cells into a key type of brain cell that dies early in Alzheimer's disease. Their findings will allow scientists to study what causes the cells to die in Alzheimer's, potentially paving the way for new treatments....
19 July 2010 - by Chris Chatterton 
Middle-aged people without Alzheimer's disease who have a 'high risk' variant of the TOMM40 gene are more likely to have poorer memory, new research findings suggest...

19 July 2009 - by Adam Fletcher 
Findings published last week suggest that people are not troubled upon learning they are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine, US, led by Dr Robert Green, measured participants’ anxiety levels following results of a genetic test. The paper arrives amidst debate on how harmful direct-to-customer genetics testing - offered by companies such as 23andMe and DeCodeMe - might actuall...
14 April 2009 - by Alison Cranage 
This week BioNews reports a study that shows a gene variant (APOEe4) known to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease is involved in the way our brains function (1). Some headlines stated that 'people could be screened for Alzheimer's disease risk', but at the moment it is not easy to...
16 March 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A gene mutation linked to the accumulation of the peptide beta-amyloid in the brain - thought to cause Alzheimer's - has been shown to trigger the disease when individuals carry two copies and help protect against the disease when they carry only one, according to a study published in...
03 November 2008 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A study examining the genomes of more than 1,300 families has revealed four new genes potentially linked to the most common late-onset form of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics last week. The researchers, based at the Massachusetts General...
28 October 2007 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
The largest genome-wide study of the genetic origins of Alzheimer's disease is set to begin, thanks to a £1.3 million grant from the UK's largest charity, the Wellcome Trust. The researchers in the study will look at DNA samples from 6,000 sufferers of late-onset Alzheimer's disease...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust

CROSSING FRONTIERS

Public Conference
London
8 December 2017

Speakers include

Professor Azim Surani

Professor Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge

Sally Cheshire

Professor Guido Pennings

Katherine Littler

Professor Allan Pacey

Dr Sue Avery

Professor Richard Anderson

Dr Elizabeth Garner

Dr Andy Greenfield

Dr Anna Smajdor

Dr Henry Malter

Vivienne Parry

Dr Helen O'Neill

Dr César Palacios-González

Philippa Taylor

Fiona Fox

Sarah Norcross

Sandy Starr


BOOK HERE

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation