Scientists have identified a network of nine genes which play a key role in Alzheimer’s Disease.
The finding could help scientists develop treatments to delay the onset of the disease, according to Mauricio Arcos-Burgos from the Australian National University (ANU).
In a study of a family of 5,000 people in Columbia, scientists identified genes that delayed the disease, and others that accelerated it, and by how much. The Columbian family has a type of hereditary Alzheimer’s.
“If you can work out how to decelerate the disease, then you can have a profound impact,” says Associate Professor Arcos-Burgos, a medical geneticist.
“I think it will be more successful to delay the onset of the disease than to prevent it completely. Even if we delay the onset by on average one year, that will mean nine million fewer people have the disease in 2050.”
Alzheimer’s disease affects up to 35 million people around the world and is predicted to affect one in 85 people globally by 2050.
Arcos-Burgos and his team studied the variable age of onset of dementia in the Columbian family rather than trying to treat symptoms which develop later in life.
The team was able to trace genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s Disease back to a founder mutation in one individual who came to the region about 500 years ago.
The team was able to isolate the nine genes involved in Alzheimer’s, some of which delay the onset by up to 17 years, while others advance its progress.
Associate Professor Arcos-Burgos is now studying the genes of a group of Queanbeyan people who have been followed for the past 10 years.
The latest study is published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
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