Alzheimer’s disease is the
most common cause of dementia in the developed world. Recent progress has
resulted in a flurry of papers identifying new genes linked to this disease
and Genome Medicine is pleased to
have published one of these key papers.
investigation, the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet fully understood
but they are thought to be a mixture of genetic and environmental factors.
Several studies have used genome-wide association
studies (GWAS) to search the entire human genome for genes that are
mutated in Alzheimer’s sufferers in the hope of finding a way to treat or slow
down the disease.
A team of researchers
across Spain and USA, sponsored by non-profit Fundations Alzheimur and Fundació
ACE, performed their own GWAS study using
patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and non-affected controls, from Spain and
then combined their results with four public GWAS data sets. Researcher Dr
Agustín Ruiz commented, “Combining these data sets allowed us to look more
accurately at small genetic defects. Using this technique we were able to
confirm the presence of mutations
(SNP) known to
be associated with Alzheimer’s disease, including those within the MS4A
cluster, and we also found a novel site.”
of the 16 genes within the MS4A cluster are implicated in the activities of the
immune system and are probably involved in allergies and autoimmune disease.
MS4A2 in particular has been linked to aspirin-intolerant
asthma. Our research provides new evidence for a role of the immune system in
the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” continued Dr Ruiz.