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New Alzheimer's Gene Found

Mutations in the GAB2 Gene May Make Some People More Likely to Develop Alzheimer's
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 6, 2007 -- Scientists have spotted another gene that may make some people more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

The discovery may one day lead to new treatments, note the researchers, who included Eric Reiman, MD, of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix.

Reiman and colleagues screened the genes of 1,411 people, including 861 people with Alzheimer's disease.

First, the researchers noted whether the participants had the ApoE4 gene, which makes Alzheimer's disease more likely.

A total of 644 participants had the ApoE4 gene. Most of them had Alzheimer's disease.

Next, the scientists analyzed participants' DNA, searching for genetic patterns linked to Alzheimer's disease. The GAB2 gene stood out in that search.

Ordinarily, the GAB2 gene thwarts the formation of Alzheimer's-related brain protein tangles. But certain GAB2 gene mutations hamper that process, note Reiman and colleagues.

The researchers tested that theory in their lab. They found that cells in test tubes made the building blocks of protein tangles when the GAB2 gene was turned off.

Reiman's team concluded that a healthy GAB2 gene offsets some of the ApoE4 gene's Alzheimer's risk. But a mutated GAB2 gene has the opposite effect, worsening Alzheimer's risk in people with the ApoE4 gene.

The findings appear in the journal Neuron.

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