Researchers report they
have pinpointed 11 new genes linked to late-onset Alzheimer's
disease, doubling the number of potential targets for drug development.
The international team of
scientists analysed genetic data from more than 25 500 Alzheimer's patients and
more than 49 000 people without the memory-robbing disease in 15 countries.
Along with adding 11 new
genes to those already known to be associated with Alzheimer's, the researchers
identified 13 other genes that require further investigation, according to the
study published in the journal Nature Genetics.
A wider clue
The findings provide a
wider view of the genetic factors that contribute to Alzheimer's and increases
the understanding of the disease to new areas. This includes the immune system,
where a genetic overlap with other neurodegenerative diseases, including
multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's, was identified.
"The discovery of
[new] pathways is very encouraging, considering the limited success of
Alzheimer's disease drugs tested so far," Margaret Pericak-Vance, director
of the Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami Miller School of
Medicine, said in a school news release.
"Our findings bring us
closer toward identifying new drug targets for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative
diseases. We'll continue to expand and analyse our data set with this
incredible group so that we can better understand the genetic influences on
this devastating disease, and find new medical and therapeutic
interventions," said Pericak-Vance, co-leader of the analysis teams for
the American Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium that worked on the study.
Several of the 11 genes
identified in the study confirm known biological pathways of Alzheimer's
disease. One of the more significant new genes was found in a part of the
genome that plays a role in the immune system and inflammatory response. This
suggests that diseases where abnormal proteins accumulate in the brain –
Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis – may have a common mechanism
and possibly a common drug target.
The US National Institute
of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about Alzheimer's disease.