News / Health

Researchers Find Genes Linked to Alzheimer’s

Patients with Alzheimer's and dementia during a therapy session inside the Alzheimer foundation in Mexico City, FILE April 19, 2012.
Patients with Alzheimer's and dementia during a therapy session inside the Alzheimer foundation in Mexico City, FILE April 19, 2012.
Art Chimes
Scientists at a U.S. university have identified genes linked to Alzheimer’s Disease. The discovery could help researchers develop new drugs against the debilitating brain malady.

As life expectancy increases around the world, more and more people survive into their 70s, 80s, and beyond, when the memory loss, personality changes, and other signs of Alzheimer’s develop.

The “gold standard” for Alzheimer’s diagnosis has long been something visible only in an autopsy - characteristic deposits in the brain known as plaques and tangles.

The plaques are clumps of a protein called beta amyloid. The tangles are associated with another protein, called tau, which was the subject of this research.

“We took 1,200 people and measured their spinal fluid levels of tau, and we wanted to understand what genes regulated levels of tau in those people,” said researcher Alison Goate, who studies genetic approaches to neurological diseases at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis.

She and her colleagues were specifically looking at genes linked to the tau protein. “And the reason for doing that is because previous studies have shown that higher levels of tau in the spinal fluid are associated with developing disease,” she said.

Her team analyzed DNA molecules and identified four regions of genetic material associated with tau levels as measured in the spinal fluid, and then looked for links between those four regions and Alzheimer’s Disease. And they found some correlation in three of the four, “which make us feel more confident that, at least in the case of those three genes, they are not only influencing levels of tau in the spinal fluid, but having some impact on risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Researchers now believe that Alzheimer’s begins killing off brain cells years before any obvious symptoms develop. So you might wonder if this work will lead to a genetic test for Alzheimer’s.

Probably not, Goate said.

But knowing which genes are linked to higher tau levels might help drug researchers, who so far haven’t had much success with medicines that target beta amyloid, the other protein linked to Alzheimer’s.

“And that maybe they will turn out to be useful drug targets for modifying tau levels in the way that we modify cholesterol levels to reduce heart disease,” she said.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid