The International Geonomic Alzeheimer’s Project, a collaboration between two US and two European groups has identified 11 new genes associated with the debilitating brain disease. This doubles the amount of gene variants connected to the mental disorder. It also “offers promising new avenues to finding drug therapies,” commented pathology professor Gerald Schellenberg of the University of Pennyslvania, who currently heads the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium.
The 11 genes, including one linked to the abnormal accumulation of amyloid protein in the brain, join a growing list of (known) gene variations associated with late onset Alzheimers, bringing it up to 22 since 2009, when only a single one had been identified.
Although, considered to be an integral membrane protein found in numerous bodily tissues and concentrated in the synapses of neurons,” little (if anything) is actually known about this gene’s primary function. However, researchers believe it may serve to regulate synapse development.
The new study also identified an additional 13 gene variants that require further investigation.
However,Schellenberg was quick to warns that “not all are good drug targets, but the longer the list of genes that you know are implicated in a disease, the more likely you are to find one that might be a good candidate for a drug. Still, it could take 10-15 years to develop therapies based on any new findings.”