Alzheimer’s disease affects up to 35 million people around the world and is predicted to affect one in 85 people globally by 2050.
A new study to help lower these numbers has identified a network of genes that play a key role in delaying the disease, and others that accelerated it, and by how much.
The researchers studied a family of 5,000 in Columbia who are afflicted by a type of hereditary Alzheimer’s. They were able to study the variable age of onset of dementia in this family, rather than trying to treat symptoms which develop later in life, even though changes in the brain can be observed in individuals before the age of 20.
With the cooperation of the family, the team were able to discount environmental factors and trace their genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s Disease back to a founder mutation in one individual who came to the region about 500 years ago.
“If you can work out how to decelerate the disease, then you can have a profound impact,” Associate Professor Arcos-Burgos, a medical geneticist, said. “If we delay the onset by on average one year, that will mean nine million fewer people have the disease in 2050,” he added.
These findings will be used to help scientists develop new treatments to delay the onset of the disease and inform future studies closer to home.
Read more here: The Australian National University.