Gene Link Marks Major Breakthrough In Dementia Research

Two new genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease have been discovered in a British scientist led genome study.

In a separate study French researchers revealed links between a third gene and the disease.

The British study, led by Professor Julie Williams, is the largest ever Alzheimer’s genome-wide association study and involved 16,000 individuals. Using a two stage process it identified strong links between the genes CLU and PICALM and Alzheimer’s. The French study of more than 7,000 individuals found a further link to the gene CR1. Both studies are being published in Nature Genetics this week.

Alzheimer’s Society comment:

‘These studies mark a really exciting breakthrough in the ongoing efforts to identify a cause and find a cure for this devastating disease. It is the first time a new gene link has been established in 16 years and the role of British scientists shows the high standards being set by this country’s researchers.

‘These discoveries will enable scientists to follow new avenues of investigation as they piece together the causes of Alzheimer’s disease – likely to be a mixture of genes; life style and life events. Most importantly it could also lead to new drug treatments.

‘In the next 10 years one million people will develop dementia but the government currently spends eight times less on dementia research than cancer research. This investment now needs to be drastically increased so we do not miss out on the incredible opportunity to build on these findings and ultimately win the battle against dementia.’

Dr Susanne Sorensen
Head of Research
Alzheimer’s Society


‘Genome-wide association study identifies variants at CLU and PICALM associated with Alzheimer’s disease’ by Williams et al is published in Nature Genetics on 6th September 2009.

‘Genome-wide association study identifies variants at CLU and CR1 associated with Alzheimer’s disease’ by Amouyel is published in the same edition of Nature Genetics.

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