Scientists have doubled the number of genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease, giving researchers twice the number of targets for drug therapies.
The genetic bonanza, reported by an international group of researchers known as the International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project (IGAP), emerged from a study of 74,076 patients and healthy subjects from 15 countries.
Some of the new genes–which are involved with late-onset Alzheimer’s–are tied to immune response and inflammation, while others are related to cell migration and brain pathways.
Identifying so many new genes opens the opportunity for more precise drug therapies that have the chance of being more effective in treating the cognitive decline, such as memory loss, that are the hallmark of the disease.
The researchers, who published their study in the journal Nature Genetics, plan to expand the data set to look for rare variants of the genes that may help to explain the different ways the disease can develop. That may also yield clues for better drugs as well. Currently, medications can only reduce some of the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s without affecting its basic disease-causing processes.