Scientists have discovered four new genetic variants that increase risk for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. An international consortium of researchers discovered that the new genes -IQCK, ACE, ADAMTS1 and WWOX – somehow work along with a previously discovered gene called ADAM10 to affect the development of Alzheimer’s. The results of the study were recently published in the journal Nature Genetics and will soon be made available online.
The team of researchers, led by scientists from the University of Miami’s Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, are members of the International Genomic Alzheimer’s Project (IGAP). IGAP members have been working together since 2011 on projects to detect variations in the genome that are associated with Alzheimer’s. This study was funded in part by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and other components of the National Institutes of Health.
For the study, the researchers analyzed the genetic makeup of more than 94,000 people in the United States and Europe with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s. The researchers were able to discover “hubs of genes” that might impact the development of Alzheimer’s. The study also found that mutations in genes specific to tau, a hallmark protein of Alzheimer’s disease, may play a primary role in the development of the disease.
The newly discovered genes, along with others previously identified, appear to work in tandem to control bodily functions that affect development of the neurodegenerative disease. The scientists are hopeful that learning about their specific functions will enable the development of potential drug targets that could slow or reverse the condition. Late onset Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in older adults.