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Early form of dementia discovered

15th February 2010

Researchers in Cambridge have pinpointed a gene that may increase a person's danger of developing an early type of dementia.

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The scientists, from the University of Cambridge, published their findings in the Nature journal.

Fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) is the second most prevalent type of dementia in people younger than 65.

The researchers looked at the brains of 515 people with the disease and discovered the gene on chromosome 7.

Professor Maria Grazia Spillantini, of the University of Cambridge, stated that they worked collaboratively with other researchers from 11 countries.

The researchers made comparisons between the brains of 515 people with known FTD with 2,509 brains of people who did not have the disease.

The researchers discovered certain changes on chromosome 7 which were believed to have an effect on around 50% of people with FTD.

The changes up the levels of the protein the gene 'codes for'. Around a fifth of people with the condition have another type of genetic change called a GRN mutation.

Professor Spillantini said they thought the new gene speeds up the damage brought about by the GRN mutation and causes FTD to develop more quickly: "We found a specific gene that was associated with an increased risk of the disease."

"A better understanding of how the gene is involved could identify a new approach to tackle this disease."

 

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