New genetic markers linked to Alzheimer's
Published on 08 April 2013 11:30 AM
US scientists have pinpointed a series of genetic markers that could highlight if people are at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
The study, completed by a team at the Washington University School of Medicine, identified mutations that have an impact on the build-up of tau proteins in the brain.
High levels of these proteins have been linked to increased chance of having the disease.
UK experts believe the study could help experts to understand changes in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.
They also pointed out that it adds to the amount of genetic markers that have been linked to the disease.
Researchers examined genetic information for more than 1,200 people, which is significantly more than previous studies in this area.
Tangles of a particular kind of tau, called phosphorylated tau (ptau), are known to be associated with the disease.
One of the new gene variants uncovered by the research was also found to create an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's and greater cognitive decline.
Dr Alison Goate, who led the study, explained that knowledge about the role of these genes could identify new targets for therapies or new animal or cellular models of the disease.
Ways to reduce your risk of developing dementia
Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer's Society, said the study will help scientists to better understand what happens to the brain as dementia develops.
He is optimistic that results like this will pave the way for future help to develop treatments aimed at stopping the changes and cutting out the effects of dementia.
'These new gene markers, as important as they are, are likely to be a few of many that might affect a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's,' he added.
'However, it is important to stress that lifestyle factors also play a role, and research has shown that eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly are key ways to reduce your risk of dementia.'
Copyright Press Association 2013