An international group of researchers has identified 11 new genes that offer important new insights into the disease pathways involved in Alzheimer's disease. The highly collaborative effort involved scanning the DNA of over 74,000 volunteersthe largest genetic analysis yet conducted in Alzheimer's researchto discover new genetic risk factors linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of the disorder.
By confirming or suggesting new processes that may influence Alzheimer's disease developmentsuch as inflammation and synaptic functionthe findings point to possible targets for the development of drugs aimed directly at prevention or delaying disease progression.
Supported in part by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and other components of the National Institutes of Health, the International Genomic Alzheimer's Project (IGAP) reported its findings online in Nature Genetics on Oct. 27, 2013. IGAP is comprised of four consortia in the United States and Europe which have been working together since 2011 on genome-wide association studies (GWAS) involving thousands of DNA samples and shared datasets. GWAS are aimed at detecting the subtle gene variants involved in Alzheimer's and defining how the molecular mechanisms influence disease onset and progression.
"Collaboration among researchers is key to discerning the genetic factors contributing to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," said Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the NIA. "We are tremendously encouraged by the speed and scientific rigor with which IGAP and other genetic consortia are advancing our understanding."
The search for late-onset Alzheimer's risk factor genes had taken considerable time, until the development of GWAS and other techniques. Until 2009, only one gene variant, Apolipoprotein E-e4 (APOE-e4), had been identified as a known risk factor. Since then, prior to today's discovery, the list of known gene risk factors had grown to include
|Contact: Peggy Vaughn|
NIH/National Institute on Aging