Breakthrough Discoveries of Alzheimer's Genes
By ALICE PARK - TIME VIA YAHOO NEWS
Added: Sun, 06 Sep 2009 23:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Lucas for the link.
Fifteen years since the last discovery of its kind, scientists have finally identified a new set of genes that may contribute to Alzheimer's disease.
The three new genes, known as clusterin, complement receptor 1 (CR1) and PICALM, were uncovered by two separate research groups, one in Wales and one in France, who linked the genes to the most common form of the memory disorder, late-onset Alzheimer's - the type that affects patients in their 60s or later and accounts for about 90% of all Alzheimer's cases. The only other gene connected with the condition, apolipoprotein E (ApoE), was identified in 1993; since, researchers have tirelessly hunted for other key genes, knowing that 60% to 80% of the progressive, incurable disease is genetically based.
In the current studies, researchers amassed the largest set of genetic data to date in the study of Alzheimer's, and took advantage of the most recent advances in genetic screening to determine which new genes conferred a high risk of developing the disease. "I think this technique is going to be very valuable, especially for diseases of the brain, where it is very difficult to get in there and see what's going on," says Julie Williams, professor of neuropsychological genetics at the MRC Center of Cardiff University, and one of the authors of the U.K. study, published today in the journal Nature Genetics.
Williams's group collected 16,000 DNA samples from Alzheimer's patients and healthy controls, while the French team, led by Dr. Philippe Amouyel at the Pasteur Institute, gathered more than 7,000 similar samples. Each team worked independently, unaware of the other lab's research, until both happened to present their data at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Vienna in July. Williams, who was in the audience when Amouyel gave his talk, immediately checked her database on her laptop and found to her delight that her group had identified the same high-risk genes as Amouyel's.
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