From nucleus - Christmas 2009 - new Alzheimer's genes discovered [p11]
(Right click and choose 'save as...' to download a printable version of this article)
A British-led study has discovered two new genes believed to be associated with Alzheimer's, with a French-led study uncovering a third. The Britishled study has been hailed as 'the biggest advance in Alzheimer's research in 15 years'; genetic faults are thought to account for 60-80% of an individual's risk of developing the disease.
The first gene, clusterin (CLU), produces a protein of the same name, which is known to protect the brain in a variety of ways, helping the brain remove destructive amyloid protein and reducing inflammation caused by an overactive immune response. The second gene, PICALM, plays an important role in the formation of memories. The French-led study, involving more than 14,000 DNA samples, highlighted the third gene, complement receptor 1 (CR1), with mutations in that gene believed to be involved in 4% of Alzheimer's cases.
The recent findings have increased the hope of finding the primary cause of Alzheimer's and increase the chances of both fighting the disease and improving the lives of those affected. The British researchers are planning an even larger study with up to 60,000 participants.
(alzheimers-research.org.uk 2009; 6 September, timesonline.co.uk 2009; 7 September)