Neurogenomics Division and executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute, said, "This study suggests a link between the inherited genes involved in normal human memory and the predisposition to Alzheimer's disease.
"It provides promising new targets at which to aim new treatments to stave off Alzheimer's and improve memory," said Reiman, who also is director of the Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium and a contributor to the study.
The findings announced today are built on a 2006 study led by collaborative teams from Arizona and Zurich, Switzerland, and published in the journal Science. That pioneering TGen research revealed a link between KIBRA and memory, in which healthy adults with the KIBRA T-allele performed better on memory tests than those without this gene.
In the most recent analysis, Huentelman's team confirmed a link between KIBRA and Alzheimer's in three different ways:
- Using TGen's powerful analytic tools to find a genetic association between the KIBRA gene and Alzheimer's disease, comparing more than 1,700 living and deceased people, with and without the disorder.
- Using gene expression tools to find that KIBRA, and genes for other molecules that interact with KIBRA, were significantly altered in the neurons of people who had Alzheimer's disease, but not in individuals without the disorder.
- Using a brain imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET) to find that cognitively-normal, late-middle-aged people lacking the protective T-allele gene had reduced activity in parts of the brain usually affected by Alzheimer's.
Genetic association study
In a study of 702 deceased persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and 1,026 living and deceased persons with and without Alzheimer's, researchers found that non-carriers of the KIBRA T-allele had increased risk of late-onset Alzheimers.
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