Jul 16, 2014
By Jane Brown
A genetic variation that delays the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease by as much as five years has been discovered by researchers in Montreal. They say the gene regulates cholesterol which is already the focus of heavy research and a target for drug development. After looking at a thousand human brains over nearly 10 years, the scientists say the finding provides genetic support for the idea that Alzheimer’s can be prevented by inhibiting the cholesterol-regulating gene. Lead author Doctor Judes Poirier says, “if you have the variant, the disease will start roughly four to five years later.” He says about a quarter of the population carries the variation, but a drug could potentially be developed to mimic the effect of the variation in people who don’t carry it. The study is published in Molecular Psychiatry.
The Alzheimer’s community has long known about a link between cholesterol and the disease. Some research has found that high cholesterol levels raise the risk of Alzheimer’s. Previous correlational studies have found that users of old varieties of statins had less Alzheimer’s disease than non-users.