Gene boosts natural protection against Alzheimer's disease

13 March 2015

Researchers from the University of California's (UC) San Diego School of Medicine have identified a gene variant that could be used to determine which patients are most likely to respond to therapy for Alzheimer's disease.

Published in Cell Stem Cell, the study suggests certain gene variants allow us to reduce the amount of beta amyloid produced by neurons, according to senior author Dr Lawrence Goldstein.

Dr Goldstein, director of UC San Diego Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center and UC San Diego Stem Cell Program, said it is potentially significant for slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

The team investigated variants of the of the SORL1 gene, which is responsible for a protein that  affects the processing and accumulation of beta amyloid peptides. These are linked to the death of neurons and dementia.

They found that variants in the SORL1 gene may also be linked to how neurons respond to a natural compound in the brain, which protects nerve cell health. Called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), the factor is being studied as a potential therapy for a number of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's disease.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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