UT Health San Antonio researchers help identify new genes linked to Alzheimer’s disease
A new international study that included faculty from UT Health San Antonio has identified five new genes linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, published last week in the journal Nature Genetics, identified the genes through a meta-analysis of genetic information from more than 94,000 people. The data was pulled from the International Genomic Alzheimer’s Project, an international consortium that aims to map the genes associated with the form of dementia.
Dr. Sudha Seshadri, director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio, contributed to the research, which was led by Brian Kunkle and Margaret Pericak-Vance, both of the University of Miami, and Jean-Charles Lambert of France’s Pasteur Institute of Lille.
Seshadri said the research helps broaden the understanding of the biological basis of Alzheimer’s.
Over the past decade, researchers have identified about 30 genes associated with Alzheimer’s, Seshadri said. The latest work pinpointed rare gene variations found in less than 5 percent of participants who researchers believe are more likely to trigger the disease, she said.
Such information can be used to help determine individuals with genetic variations that may put them at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, she said.
“Which are the points in their genome, in the millions of points along their genome, that are different in the people with Alzheimer’s versus the people without?” Seshadri said. “If you take all the different points at which such variants could be either a risk variant or a low-risk variant, then it adds up. You can categorize individuals of having different degrees of risk.”
Genetics play a significant role in determining whether a person will have Alzheimer’s in his or her lifetime. However, Seshadri said genetic predisposition may interact with environmental or lifestyle factors that can amplify the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
“Genetic propensity is only half of the story,” she said.
While the research may not “immediately change what happens in a doctor’s office,” Seshadri said researchers hope the work can be leveraged in the future for targeted drugs, therapies and clinical trials.
Lauren Caruba covers health care and medicine in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @LaurenCaruba