Gene May Protect Against Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's disease is less common in people with a certain mutation in the APP gene

(RxWiki News) Some people may have genes that help to keep their minds strong as they age.

Recent research found that one type of mutation in a gene for beta amyloid may help keep memory strong.

This finding adds to the understanding of the genetic influences on Alzheimer's disease (AD), which may lead to new treatments.

"Talk to your doctor about your risk of dementia."

Researchers in Iceland, led by Thorlakur Jonsson, PhD, at deCODE genetics, looked at the genes of 1,795 people for variations in the APP gene and its relationship to cognitive function.

APP is the gene for a protein that is changed into beta amyloid by enzymes. Beta amyloid, which builds up into plaques, interferes with brain function in people with AD.

They found that people over the age of 85, who had a certain APP mutation, were seven and half times less likely to have AD. People with this beneficial mutation also had improved cognitive abilities in later life compared to people without it.

Other APP mutations have been linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s, which can begin around 30 or 40 years old.

This is the first mutation in this gene that appears to provide protection against Alzheimer’s disease.

The authors concluded that this finding highlights the importance of beta amyloid in memory and cognitive function. Understanding this beneficial mutation may lead to treatments for AD.

This report was published July 11 in Nature.

Some authors on this study are employed by deCODE genetics and Genentech.

deCODE genetics is a biotechnology company that offers testing for genetic markers of disease.

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Review Date: 
July 11, 2012