September 28, 2010

Gene Discovered With Link To Alzheimer’s Disease

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The World Health Organization estimates there to be about 18 million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer's disease (AD), and they expect that number to double by 2025.  There is currently no treatment to cure or even slow the progression of AD, but researchers have discovered a gene that could be the key to unlocking the mystery behind the disease.

The gene, MTHFD1L, appears to increase a person's risk of developing late-onset AD, which is the most common form of AD. Scientists looked at variations throughout the human genome of 2,269 participants with late onset AD and 3,107 participants without the disease, and were then able to pinpoint differences in the genetic codes of people without AD. The study also found that the people with a specific variation of the gene are about two times more likely to develop late-onset AD than those without.

"We are hopeful our identification of MTHFD1L as a risk gene for Alzheimer's disease will help us to better understand how this disease develops and potentially serve as a marker for people who may be at increased risk," Adam Naj, Ph.D., co-author of the study was quoted as saying.

By applying the new tools of genomics we are now making rapid progress in finding out what genetic changes are involved in Alzheimer disease. These findings will lead to a better understanding of what's happening in Alzheimer disease, and how we can improve treatments," Jonathan Haines, Ph.D., Principal Investigator at Vanderbilt University School of Medicinewas quoted as saying.

SOURCE: PLoS Genetics, published online September, 2010