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Researchers Identified 11 more Genes tied to Alzheimer’s Disease

Update Date: Oct 28, 2013 03:21 PM EDT
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An international group of researchers reported that they found 11 more genes that could be tied to one's Alzheimer's disease risk, totaling the number of genetic determinants to 21. The team, which was composed of roughly three-quarters of the world's Alzheimer's geneticists, hope that these genes could offer new insight as to how to treat or prevent the most common form of dementia.

"It is really difficult to treat a disease when you do not understand what causes it," one of the lead researchers, Professor Julie Williams from Cardiff University, said according to BBC News. Williams is the head of neurodegeneration at the university. "We've doubled the number of genes discovered and a very strong pattern is emerging."

The team was made up of around 180 researchers from 145 academic institutions and 15 countries. The group examined the DNA of 74, 046. A little over 20,000 of them were Alzheimer's patients and over 40,000 of them were healthy individuals. By comparing the genetic code, which is responsible for how the body is built and how it functions, the researchers identified 11 more genes.

The researchers explained that even though the genes do not necessarily cause Alzheimer's disease, the genes appear to increase one's risk of getting the neurodegenerative condition. The researchers hope that the genes could be used to study ways of preventing Alzheimer's disease. The team stated that finding a treatment option that can replace faulty genes has the potential to extremely successful in preventing the illness from manifesting.

"This exciting discovery of genes linked with Alzheimer's disease opens up new avenues to explore in the search for treatments for the condition," Dr. James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said. "We now need continued global investment into dementia research to understand exactly how these genes affect the disease process."

The study was published in Nature Genetics

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