19 September 2009

Three new Alzheimer’s genes identified

British scientists have discovered two new genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease, while French colleagues uncovered a third
Alzheimer’s Research Trust: 6 September 2009
The results, from the largest ever Alzheimer’s genome-wide association study (GWAS) involving 16,000 individuals, are published in Nature Genetics. They are the first new genes found to be associated with the common form of Alzheimer’s disease since 1993. …
Previously only one gene, APOE4, had been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This study reveals two further genes, CLU and PICALM, are related to the disease. This is expected to provide scientists with a much clearer route to developing new treatments.

The paper’s lead-author, Prof Julie Williams, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: "Both CLU and PICALM highlight new pathways that lead to Alzheimer's disease. The CLU gene produces clusterin which normally acts to protect the brain in a variety of ways. Variation in this gene could remove this protection and contribute to Alzheimer's development. PICALM is important at synapses - connections between brain cells - and is involved in the transport of molecules into and inside of nerve cells, helping form memories and other brain functions. We know that the health of synapses is closely related to memory performance in Alzheimer's disease, thus changes in genes which affect synapses are likely to have a direct effect on disease development." … > full press release : review by NHS Knowledge Services : reviewed by MedPage Today

Research articles:

Harold D et al. Genome-wide association study identifies variants at CLU and PICALM associated with Alzheimer's disease. Nature Genetics 2009; DOI: 10.1038/ng.440.
Lambert JC et al. Genome-wide association study identifies variants at CLU and CR1 associated with Alzheimer's disease. Nature Genetics 2009; DOI: 10.1038/ng.439.

Additional news coverage: BBC (including video clip) ; Times Online

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