Scientists have discovered gene variants that affect the function of immune cells in young, healthy people. Interestingly, many of these same gene variants are known risk factors for diseases that occur later in life, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. This linking of known gene risk factors for age-related neurological disorders to immune system functions, such as inflammation, offers new insights into Alzheimer’s and other disorders and may one day lead to promising therapies.
Official mortality figures may have substantially underreported deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 show two recent studies supported in part by NIA. Underreporting of Alzheimer’s as a cause of death on death certificates is a well-known phenomenon. Some people with the disease never receive a diagnosis. Many others have dementia-related conditions, such as aspiration pneumonia, listed as the primary cause of death while the underlying cause, Alzheimer’s, is never reported.
Scientists have identified a possible cellular mechanism triggered by oxidative stress and DNA damage that is linked to tau, a protein commonly seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and certain other neurodegenerative diseases called “tauopathies.” The effect was observed in fruit fly and mouse tauopathy models and in human Alzheimer’s brains.
A study in mice shows how a breakdown of the brain's blood vessels may amplify or cause problems associated with Alzheimer's disease. The results published in Nature Communications suggest that blood vessel cells called pericytes may provide novel targets for treatments and diagnoses.
Researchers can now freely access the first batch of genome sequence data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today. The ADSP is one of the first projects undertaken under an intensified national program of research to prevent or effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease.
An international group of researchers has identified 11 new genes that offer important new insights into the disease pathways involved in Alzheimer’s disease. The highly collaborative effort involved scanning the DNA of over 74,000 volunteers—the largest genetic analysis yet conducted in Alzheimer’s research—to discover new genetic risk factors linked to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of the disorder.