A “landmark” international study has identified 75 genes that are associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, including 42 new genes which had not previously been linked to the condition, providing hope for the production of more effective treatments.
As part of the study, researchers analysed the genetic landscape of more than 100,000 people suffering from the condition and compared them with more than 600,000 healthy individuals to look for differences in genetic makeup.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, provided evidence that inflammation and a person’s immune system can play a part in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
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— Nature Genetics (@NatureGenet) April 4, 2022
Senior Research Fellow at Cardiff University and co-leader of the study, Dr Rebecca Sims said the study “provides exciting new targets for therapeutic intervention and advances our ability to develop algorithms to predict who will develop Alzheimer’s in later life.”
“This study more than doubles the number of identified genes influencing risk for the more common form of Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.
Fellow co-author of the study and leader of the Genetic and Environmental Risk for Alzheimer’s disease consortium, Professor Julie Williams called the research is “a major leap forward in our mission to understand Alzheimer’s, and ultimately produce several treatments needed to delay or prevent the disease.”
“This is a landmark study in the field of Alzheimer’s research and is the culmination of 30 years’ work. Genetics has and will continue to help us identify specific disease mechanisms which we can target therapeutically,” she said.
“The results support our growing knowledge that Alzheimer’s disease is an extremely complex condition, with multiple triggers, biological pathways and cell types involved in its development. We are unmasking more of these causes year on year, and this also provides greater opportunities from which to develop therapeutics.”
From the findings, researchers were able to create a genetic risk score to determine how likely patients with already existing cognitive impairment will go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers hope it will improve the evaluation of new drugs in clinical trials.
The scientists involved in the study also hope the findings can be used to identify those at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease before they start to develop the condition.
According to Dementia Australia, “Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70% of all people with dementia” with symptoms including frequent difficulty with memory. loss of enthusiasm in normal everyday activities, and a deterioration in social skills.
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