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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid