New Alzheimer's-related genes identified

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London, Sept 7 (ANI): A group of British scientists have identified two new genes that are linked with Alzheimer's disease.

After analysing the gene pool of more than 19,000 older European and U.S. residents, researchers from the School of Medicine at Cardiff in the UK and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered the genes APOJ, also known as clustrin, on chromosome 8, and PICALM, on chromosome 11.

A team of French colleagues have also uncovered a third gene called APOE4, the only one previously linked to the more common late-onset form of the disease.

"There's good evidence that these new genes may be novel risk factors, the first discovered since APOE in 1993," Nature magazine quoted Washington University researcher and co-author Alison M. Goate as saying.

"So it's a very important observation because this study is the first to provide such significant evidence of novel genetic risk factors for the most common form of Alzheimer's disease," she added.

Co-author Dr. John C. Morris, of Washington University, said: "The power of the new Genome Wide Association Study methods is that with large datasets we can now identify genes that earlier techniques were unable to confirm. These new genes associated with Alzheimer's disease provide new clues about how the illness develops."

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."

She added: "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."

Goate believes that many more genes may be involved in Alzheimer's risk.

A research article on the study has been published in the journal Nature Genetics. (ANI)

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