A quick genetic test could soon predict if you’re at risk for Alzheimer’s

MORE than 40 new genes linked to Alzheimer’s have been identified in a “great leap forward” in the search for a cure for the disease.

It’s more than double the previous total, with 75 stretches of DNA now implicated in the brain-wasting condition.

Tests could one day predict the possibility of someone developing Alzheimer's


Tests could one day predict the possibility of someone developing Alzheimer’sPhoto credit: Getty

Scientists say the landmark study means they now have a much clearer picture of the disease’s key genetic drivers.

Not only does it open up new avenues for treatments, but it could also soon allow medical professionals to develop an accurate test for Alzheimer’s risk before symptoms appear.

The researcher dr. Rebecca Sims of Cardiff University and the UK Dementia Research Institute said: “This study more than doubles the number of identified genes that influence risk for the more common form of Alzheimer’s disease.

“It offers exciting new targets for therapeutic interventions and improves our ability to develop algorithms to predict who will develop Alzheimer’s later in life.”

The study, published in Nature Genetics, identified 75 genes linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, including 42 that were previously unknown.

Scientists compared the DNA of 100,000 people with the disease and compared it to over 600,000 healthy adults.

They’ve already used the results to identify the likelihood of someone with brain loss developing full-blown Alzheimer’s disease over the next three years.

In just three years, one million people in the UK will be living with dementia.

Despite being the UK’s single biggest killer, there is currently no effective treatment to combat the brain-wasting disease.

Researcher Professor Julie Williams, Director of the Center at the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University, said: “This is a landmark study in the field of Alzheimer’s research and the culmination of 30 years of work.

“Genetics has and will continue to help us identify specific disease mechanisms that we can target therapeutically.

“This work is a major advance in our mission to understand Alzheimer’s and ultimately develop multiple treatments needed to delay or prevent the disease.”

dr Susan Kohlhaas, Research Director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Genes are the instructions for life.

“Previous genetic discoveries underpin much of our current understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and the direction of research into new treatments.

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“Creating a comprehensive list of risk genes for Alzheimer’s disease is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, and while this work does not give us the complete picture, it does provide a valuable framework for future developments.

“It will take a concerted and global effort to develop life-changing treatments, but this landmark study also gives us hope that research will win and it gives us the opportunity to work on new treatment targets.”

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Tom Vazquez

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