New Alzheimer's Gene Targets Found
Researchers Discover 3 Genes Linked to Alzheimer's Disease; Findings May Lead to New Treatments
Sept. 6, 2009 -- Researchers in the U.K. and France have found three genes
that make Alzheimer's disease more likely
when certain mutations are present.
The genes -- which are called CLU, CR1, and PICALM -- may make good targets
for new Alzheimer's disease treatments, the scientists report
online in Nature Genetics.
The genes were found by comparing DNA from thousands of Europeans and
Americans with and without Alzheimer's disease.
Other genes are also involved in Alzheimer's disease. The APOE4 gene
variant is known to be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, and more gene
discoveries are likely, the researchers report.
For instance, in
July 2008, another team of researchers reported that a gene called TOMM40
may be a strong predictor of Alzheimer's disease.
Julie Williams, PhD, is a professor of neuropsychological genetics at
Cardiff University in the U.K. She was one of the researchers involved in
finding the new genes.
"Three of the risk genes -- APOE, CLU, and CR1 -- have roles in protecting
the brain from damage. Perhaps the changes we see in these genes remove this
protection or may even turn them into killers," Williams says in a statement
posted on the Nature Genetics web site.
One day, the newly discovered genes may become part of a broad genetic test
to predict Alzheimer's risk, but on their own, they wouldn't make a good gene
test, researcher Michael Owen, PhD, notes in a news release. Owen directs
Cardiff University's MRC Center for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics.
Owen says a larger study is being planned to look for more Alzheimer's gene