US News and World Report reported on Friday that researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital have identified two more gene mutations that increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
The mutations occur in a gene called ADAM10 and have been linked to a common form of Alzheimer's that usually strikes after the age of 60. This is the fifth gene that has been found to be linked directly to the devastating neurological disease. The researchers involved with the study found that the two mutations in ADAM10 increased production of the beta-amyloid protein in the brains of mice. Beta-amyloid proteins are also found in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Rudolph Tanzi, the director of genetics and ageing unit at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorder, stated in a news release that
This is the first report to document, in animal models, new [disease-causing] gene mutations for Alzheimer's since the reports of the original four genes in the 1990's.
The gene mutations reduce the creation of new nerve-related cells in the hippocampus as well. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is essential to memory and learning, two components that are heavily impacted by the development of Alzheimer's disease.
The results of the study have big implications, especially when nearly five million Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer's disease. That number is expected to increase three times over the next few decades unless a cure or viable treatment is found.