A research team led by the University of Miami’s Hussman Institute for Human Genomics analyzed the genetic makeup of more than 94,000 people clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and discovered four new genetic variants that increase the risk of the disease.
Learn more about the study, its groundbreaking findings, and how it will impact future Alzheimer’s research.
The study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, is the second genome-wide association study to be done with people clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The first study was completed in 2013 and analyzed 75,000 people, identifying 11 gene locations previously not associated with the development of Alzheimer’s. This more recent study added 30% more data to the analysis, verifying 20 previously found genes and adding four additional Alzheimer’s genes to the progression of the disease.
Exactly how the new Alzheimer’s genes (named IQCK, ACE, ADAMTS1 and WWOX) affect the risk and development of the disease is still largely unknown, but may provide crucial targets as researchers search for treatments.
Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine, neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson comments, “This is a powerful study. Finding these new genes allows clinicians to one day target these genes with therapeutic interventions. It also gives us greater insight into the potential causes of Alzheimer’s.”
The study also validated the role of amyloid and the immune system in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s. Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, director of the Alzheimer’s Genome Project and part of the study, is hopeful that having more than a dozen gene targets on the effects of immunity on Alzheimer’s can work towards new drug discovery for the disease.
Because a person can develop Alzheimer’s many different ways, researchers are hopeful that by identifying certain genes, they will be able to develop personalized and specific interventions that target each person’s specific genes.
While the study will not have an immediate impact for people living with Alzheimer’s, it does provide useful insight into the bodily processes that may cause or interact with the progression of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Are you aware of any Alzheimer’s genes that you, a parent or senior loved one may have? How do you think Alzheimer’s genes will impact future research? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below.