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New Genes Discovered To Be Associated with Alzheimer's Disease

TAIPEI, TAIWAN, Apr.30, 2022 - Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that slowly injures memory and thinking skills and, finally, the ability to complete simple tasks. The first symptoms of the patients appear at the age of 65. In 2020, nearly 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s disease. The number doubles every 5 years beyond age 65 and will reach 14 million by 2060. Earlier in April 2022, a study published in Nature Genetics journal had identified 75 genes associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, including 42 new genes which had not been discovered before.

This new finding was discovered by a highly collaborative, international project which includes eight partner countries in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and across Europe. The study involved more than 100,000 patients with Alzheimer’ disease. The researchers analyzed their genome by a genome-wide association study (GWAS), they compared the data to over 600,000 healthy individuals seeking for differences in their genetics. It enabled the scientists to generate a large and reliable dataset which has gained a better understanding of the links between Alzheimer’ disease risk and microglia cell function, amyloid-beta peptidepathways, and Tau protein pathways.

Researchers previously found Apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) as the risk gene and other development of amyloid beta and tau, two hallmark proteins that build up in the brain with devastating results as Alzheimer's progresses. By bringing all the identified genes together and related dementias from the results that appeared to accelerate Alzheimer’s disease risk prediction over previous models and can complement risk insights based on age and APOE status.

Another key pathway in the study involves genes associated with inflammation. The body uses inflammation as a defense mechanism to kill off pathogens, but it also plays a role in removing damaged cells. Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), which is made by the immune system to regulate inflammation, is associated with a cluster of genes found by the study. Although the chemical’s main role is to gather the body’s defenses for fighting, it is also a culprit in many autoimmune diseases in which the body turns upon itself. In the study, scientists also found that additional complicated genes are interacting so that Alzheimer’s disease is a multifactorial disease, made up of different pathologies.

Alzheimer’s disease could be a burden for an aging society. As the disease gets worse, people living with Alzheimer’s disease often need higher intensive care that would be more and more challenging for their family and clinical industry. Thus, the key purpose of studying Alzheimer’s disease is prevention and precision medicine. Scientists now can find out more potential new targets for treatments, medications and lifestyle changes that might reduce the mortality and improve living quality of Alzheimer’s disease.


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