The “exciting” discovery of two genes linked with dementia could lead to future treatments for currently incurable diseases, the Independent has reported.
Scientists found that one gene is able to indicate whether Alzheimer’s is more or less likely, while the other has a protective effect.
According to author Dr Rebecca Sims, of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, these particular genes, which suggest that immune cells in the brain play a causal role in the disease, are “very good targets” for potential drug treatment.
“These are much more exciting than previous genes we have identified. All of the other genes we have highlighted … affect the risk of Alzheimer’s disease but how they work is very unclear,” she said.
The genes, to go by their scientific name, PLCG2 and AB13, were found to cause changes in proteins involved in the disease. Dr Sims said this process is easier to influence artificially, suggesting that drugs could be used to invoke a particular effect.
“In addition to identifying two genes that affect the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, our new research reveals a number of other genes and proteins that form a network likely to be important in its development.”
Commenting on the study, Dr Doug Brown, director of research and development at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Over 60 per cent of people with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease, yet despite its prevalence we still don’t fully understand the complex causes of the disease.
“The discovery of two new risk genes for Alzheimer’s is an exciting advance that could help to deepen our understanding of what happens in the brains of people with the disease.”