(NEW YORK, NY, April 3, 2011) In the largest study of its kind, researchers from a consortium that includes Columbia University Medical Center identified four new genes linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease. Each of these genes adds to the risk of developing this most common form of the disease, and together they offer a portal into the causes of Alzheimer's. Their identification will help researchers find ways to determine who is at risk of developing the disease, which will be critical as preventive measures become available, and to identify proteins and pathways for drug development. The findings appear in the current issue of Nature Genetics.
"A significant aspect of our research is that these genes clarify three new pathways," said Richard Mayeux, MD., MS., one of the lead scientists in the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC) and Chairman of the Department of Neurology of Columbia University Medical Center. "APOE-e4 and the other genes identified earlier are related to the accumulation of amyloid in the brain; these new genes are involved in inflammatory processes, lipid metabolism, and the movement of molecules within cells. Therefore, we may now have four pathways that are critically related to the disease and that could really make a difference in how we study and potentially prevent and treat it."
(Dr. Mayeux is also the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Epidemiology; Director of the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, which is devoted to the epidemiological investigation of neurological diseases; and Co-Director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center).
The study, conducted by the ADGC and led by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the University of Miami, Boston University School of Medicine and Columbia University, reports genetic analysis of more than 11,000 people with Alzheimer's a
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Columbia University Medical Center