One of our genes is apolipoprotein E (APOE), which often appears with a variation which nobody would want to have: APOEε4, the main genetic risk factor for sporadic Alzheimer's disease (the most common form in which this disorder manifests itself and which is caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors). It is estimated that at least 40% of the sporadic patients affected by this disease are carriers of APOEε4, but this also means that much more still remains to be studied. The researcher at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) Xabier Elcoroaristizabal has opened up a channel for making a start by analysing candidate genes which, always in combination with APOEε4, could help to explain more cases. His thesis is entitled "Molecular markers in mild amnestic cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease" (Marcadores moleculares en deterioro cognitivo leve tipo amnsico y enfermedad de Alzheimer). An initial article on this can be read in the journal BMC Neuroscience.
The long-term aim is to contribute towards the early detection of Alzheimer's disease by identifying signs that could be detectable in the very early phases. And, as Elcoroaristizabal explains, while there is no cure for this disorder, the alternative is to get ahead of it and delay its development: "Certain preventive measures involving cognitive stimulation delay its appearance. There are even new drugs that could start to be used earlier. Today there is no solution, but the more we maintain a person's correct cognitive state, the better."
Mild amnestic, cognitive impairment
The individuals who develop Alzheimer's go through a transition period first of all, and this could be the key moment for the effective application of preventive measures. This is mild cognitive impairment (MCI), in which slight cognitive alterations take place but do not
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