News | January 14, 2007

Scientists Link Gene to Alzheimer’s

Gene could unlock the mysteries of Alzheimer's
By Kathleen Fackelmann, USA TODAY
January 15, 2007 - An international team of gene hunters has homed in on a new gene that might play a key role in some cases of late-onset Alzheimer's, the most common form of this degenerative brain disease.

People who inherit certain variations in the gene, called SORL1, appear to have an increased risk of getting Alzheimer's after age 60, says researcher Richard Mayeux at the Columbia University Medical Center. Researchers in 1993 first identified a gene, ApoE4, that increases the risk of late-onset Alzheimer's, but years of combing through the human genome didn't produce another gene for this form of the disease — until now.

Mayeux, along with Lindsay Farrer, chief of the genetics program at Boston University School of Medicine and others, published the finding Sunday in the online edition of Nature Genetics. The results, if verified by others, could lead to a better understanding of how this disease destroys the brain and causes symptoms such as memory loss, Mayeux says.

The researchers studied the DNA from about 6,000 people — half had late-onset Alzheimer's and the rest were healthy people the same age. The team found that variations in the SORL1 gene were more common in people with Alzheimer's. "Our study says that changes in the SORL1 gene might be a cause of the disease," Mayeux says.

A SORL1 gene that doesn't work properly may lead to a heightened production of beta amyloid, a short, sticky protein thought to be a key player in Alzheimer's. When beta amyloid builds up, it can damage neurons, and that could cause the memory loss and other symptoms, Farrer says.

The team has located two broad regions of the SORL1 gene with alterations in the genetic code. Now they must go back and pinpoint the abnormalities in the coding that might lead to the disease.

"We are doing that now," Mayeux says.

If the finding is confirmed, researchers may one day develop a blood test that would identify at-risk people who have the abnormal gene, says Sam Gandy, a spokesman for the Chicago-based Alzheimer's Association. But the test would just offer a risk profile and couldn't predict who would actually get the disease, he says.

Late-onset Alzheimer's is not triggered by a single gene and is probably influenced by many factors, including lifestyle and diet, says Gandy, who is the director of the Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Additional studies of the SORL1 gene might offer clues about the buildup of the toxic beta amyloid in the brain, Farrer says. And those clues might lead to the development of drugs that might fix the abnormality in SORL1 and thus slow or prevent the disease, he adds.

Related Content

Carestream dose management
Sponsored Content | Whitepapers | Advanced Visualization | August 17, 2017
It's critical for today's healthcare professionals to understand the balance between the risks and benefits of any X-...
Carestream Launches MR Brain Perfusion and Diffusion Modules for Vue PACS
Technology | Advanced Visualization | August 16, 2017
Carestream Health recently introduced new MR (magnetic resonance) Brain Perfusion and MR Brain Diffusion modules that...
CDN to Integrate Advanced Cardiac Imaging Tools From DiA Imaging Analysis
Technology | Advanced Visualization | August 10, 2017
August 10, 2017 — CDN recently announced a new partnership agreement with DiA Imaging Analysis Ltd., makers of next-g
GE Additive and Stryker Announce Additive Manufacturing Partnership
News | 3-D Printing | July 06, 2017
July 6, 2017 — GE Additive and Stryker have entered a partnership agreement to support Stryker’s growth in...
Philips Receives FDA 510(k) Clearance for IntelliSpace Portal 9.0
Technology | Advanced Visualization | June 29, 2017
Philips announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market...
Strain Imaging Improves Cardiac Surveillance of Certain Breast Cancer Patients
News | Cardio-oncology | May 03, 2017
Epsilon Imaging Inc. announced a research study using EchoInsight was presented at the American College of Cardiology (...
Fovia and Predible Health Combine XStream HDVR with Deep Learning to Fight Cancer
News | Advanced Visualization | April 25, 2017
Fovia Inc. and Predible Health announced a new collaboration to combine high-quality imaging performance and accuracy...
SyntheticMR Myelination Quantification Feature Receives CE Mark
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | April 19, 2017
April 19, 2017 — REMyDI (Rapid Estimation of Myelin for Diagnostic Imaging), first introduced by SyntheticMR AB at th
3-D-printed Model of Stenotic Intracranial Artery Enables Vessel-Wall MRI Standardization
News | 3-D Printing | April 18, 2017
April 18, 2017 — A collaboration between stroke neurologists at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and b
3-D Prints Compare Effectiveness of Top Surgical Techniques for Repairing Heel Deformity
News | 3-D Printing | April 18, 2017
Using 3-D models of a patient’s foot, investigators at Cedars-Sinai have found that the three leading procedures for...
Overlay Init