New Clues in Gene Study Yield Insights on Alzheimer's

Two Alzheimer's studies discovered five key genes that bring insight into how the disease develops, bringing scientists a big step closer to finding a cure.

British and American researchers, who analyzed the genes of 50,000 people, have concluded that those five genes make the dementia condition more likely in the elderly, The New York Times reports. It increases the number of genes linked to Alzheimer's from 5 to 10.

"Although these studies will not bring us any closer to being able to predict who might be at greater risk of developing Alzheimer's, they will give scientists clues as to how Alzheimer's might develop," the U.K.'s Alzheimer's Society's Dr. Susanne Sorensen said in a statement. "Most importantly their identification could also lead to the development of new drug treatments in the long term."

Scientists say the risk of the disease is 80% genetic, but make be reduced by 60% if these 10 key genes are terminated, the BBC reports. The genes are linked to processing fat and cholesterol, as well as the immune system and the mechanism by which brain cells process big molecules.

Sorensen also said that the studies, both published in Nature Genetics on Monday, highlight the importance of increasing government investment in dementia research. The New York Times reports the nation spends $183 billion on Alzheimer's related costs and Sorensen said that the government spends eight times less on dementia research than cancer research.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in eight people over the age of 65 have the disease, adding up to a total of 5.4 million Americans.

Selected Reading: The Alzheimer's Society, Alzheimer's Association

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