Four newly discovered Alzheimer’s genes could provide the roadmap that scientists need to make progress in stopping the disease.
A recent study analyzed the genetic makeup of more than 94,000 people in Europe and the United States with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s. The four new genetic variants help to paint a clearer picture of how genes work together to affect the development and progression of the disease. By understanding the building blocks of the disease, researchers are hopeful that they will be able to target and treat these genes to stop the progression of the disease.
Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine, said that the results of this study are a powerful tool in helping to understand how and why Alzheimer’s develops.
Although the discoveries made by the study will not change the treatment or outlook for current Alzheimer’s patients, the results deliver an extraordinary insight that can be used for treatment options for future generations of sufferers.
The study involved a collaboration of data led by the University of Miami’s Hussman Institute for Human Genomics. The study results were published on Thursday in the “Nature Genetics” journal.
This particular study was the second genome-wide association study. The first study was published in 2013 and examined almost 75,000 patients. By increasing the study numbers to 94,000, 30 percent more data was added to the results.
Because Alzheimer’s involves multiple genes working in tandem, it is important to look at the whole picture. Increasing the sample size of the study allowed reserachers to examine the rare gene variants to further hone in on the hubs of genes that enable the disease to grow.
Researchers hope that this new information will help them to develop new precision medicine techniques. By ascertaining what road the genes are taking in an individual patient, the treatment can be tailored to target specific interventions.