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Understanding Alzheimer’s: Genetic search uncovers five new genes
Date:4/3/2011

A leading UK scientist's search for factors that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's has uncovered five new genes to help pinpoint what's going wrong in the brain.

Professor Julie Williams from Cardiff University's MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics has identified an additional five new genes bringing the total number of genes that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's to ten.

"What we did in this study is to follow-up previous work in around 20,000 people with Alzheimer's and 40,000 well individuals and identified a further five new genes that increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," said Professor Williams, who led the study.

"Through our on-going research we are finding genes that increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, allowing us to pinpoint what may be going wrong, biologically, in the brain," she added.

Published in Nature Genetics, the study confirms that Alzheimer's disease remains a complex condition it's not one element going wrong, rather it's a number of things that are accumulating. If someone is unlucky enough to get all the elements going wrong in the brain the disease process may be triggered.

However, discovering these five new genes has enabled the team to identify a series of patterns where they are able to tell there is something different about the responses of people with Alzheimer's disease.

Specifically, they are able to implicate a number of risk factors including: a sufferer's immune system, the ways the brain processes cholesterol and lipids and for the first time, a process called endocytosis which, in normal healthy brains removes toxic amyloid-beta protein from the brain.

"What's exciting is the genes we now know of - the five new ones, plus those previously identified are clustering in patterns," according to Professor Williams.

"So several genes are implicating the i
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Contact: Chris Jones
JonesC83@cf.ac.uk
44-292-087-4731
Cardiff University
Source:Eurekalert

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