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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid