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More Alzheimer's genes found

4th April 2011

Scientists have found five genes which heighten the danger of developing Alzheimer's disease.

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This raises the amount of identified genes which are associated with the disease to 10.

Research published in the journal Nature Genetics has said that the danger of developing the disease could be cut by 60% if the effects of all the genes could be stopped.

However, the researchers have said that this might not be possible for another 15 years.

Alzheimer's disease is thought to be 80% genetically caused. The first gene identified was found 17 years ago, but no new discoveries were made until two years ago.

Professor Kevin Morgan, from the University of Nottingham, said: "We were basically clueless."

The newly identified genes influence three bodily processes, namely how it handles fat  cholesterol, which brain cells handle large molecules (endocytosis) and the immune system. 

The genes in Alzheimer which affect the immune system are CLU, CR1, ABCA7, CD33 and EPHA1.

The genes involved in fat processing genes are APOE, CLU and ABCA7, while the cell membrane genes are PICALM, BIN1, CD33 and CD2AP.

Cardiff University's Professor Julie Williams, who headed the study, said: "What I find exciting is that we have found specific gene processes, we now have precise targets to identify treatments."

"There are 500,000 people with Alzheimer's [in the UK] so if you could prevent 60% that would be 300,000 people," she added.

 

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