Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and there is currently no treatment available to stop the progression of the disease. Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is mostly caused by genetic factors, but exactly which genes create the Alzheimer’s risk are not well understood.
Researchers from the University of Kentucky have recently made a discovery that is set to change this lack of knowledge. They investigated the genomes of over 5,000 people with Alzheimer’s and almost 5,000 without, and compared their genetic information. In doing so, they discovered a gene called Mucin 6 that they believe plays a role in the development of late onset Alzheimer’s.
This study is a relatively small one, so the researchers stress the need for caution when drawing conclusions from the results. However, even in this small group they were able to find a strong link between Mucin 6 and the condition, which points the way for further investigation. If Mucin 6 is indeed a genetic risk factor for the gene it could one day lead to earlier detection of patients at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. It may also allow doctors to start these patients’ treatments earlier to reduce the damage done by this condition.
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