Nov 15, 2012

By Jane Brown

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Less than one percent of people have it.  But an international team of scientists has identified a rare gene variant that’s normally linked to inflammation, which triples the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.  It also seems to harm memory and thinking in older people without dementia.

Doctor Peter St. George-Hyslop of the University of Toronto says the role of the gene TREM2 in Alzheimer’s suggests inflammation could be the main cause.  He tells CTV News, “What we are now finding out from genetic study is that inflammation is an important part of the disease itself.  It starts early, and it is part of the way the disease actually happens.”

Scientists are excited by the discovery because of how the gene might reveal what causes Alzheimer’s and ways to prevent it.  Doctor Lili-Naz Hazrati is with Toronto’s University Health Network.  “We are finding different components of the disease, and yes, we are very optimistic that we are going towards a treatment for Alzheimer’s.”

About 30 million people around the world have Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to rise to 35 million in the next three years.  You can read about this latest study online in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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