The largest study ever conducted on human memory has identified a gene variant that plays a crucial role in memory. Researchers hope that by learning more about this gene variant they can understand more about Alzheimer’s prevention and possibly develop effective treatment methods that would target the gene.
Genome Study Reveals New Gene Associated with Memory
An international research team has recently identified a genetic variant that allows some people to have better memory. Researchers from the largest study ever of human memory observed more than 14,000 seniors and found that those who had the gene variant performed better on memory tests.
The gene affected is known as FASTKD2 and researchers found that people who had a change in the DNA on the chromosome 2 of the FASTKD2 gene had improved memory and recall. Researchers also noted that participants with the gene variant had a larger hippocampus and more gray matter in the brain. The hippocampus plays an important role in storing and retrieving memory and atrophy of the hippocampus is a hallmark trait of Alzheimer’s disease.
Possible Future Treatments Targeting the Gene
Dr. Andrew Saykin, Psy.D., director of the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center and the IU Center for Neuroimaging led the team and said that more research is needed to determine if drugs targeting the FASTKD2 gene could prevent Alzheimer’s. Dr. Saykin said, “There is likely no single ‘memory gene’; we expect that memory is driven by a combination of multiple genes along with environment and lifestyle. Although the influence of FASTKD2 was modest, there are parallels to research in diabetes, cancer and hypertension that uncovered genetic variants with similar effects that turned out to be targets for drugs that are now commonly used.”