University of Pittsburgh researchers supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Cancer Institute report in the March 1998 issue of Nature Genetics the discovery of a new genetic association with Alzheimer's disease. The gene has several different forms and codes for the enzyme bleomycin hydrolase (BH). It is one of the few genes discovered so far that has a form that is associated with development of Alzheimer's disease in people older than 65 years of age. One form of ApoE, another gene with multiple forms, is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's after the age of 65. The BH gene appears to act independently of the ApoE gene, which was found to be associated with Alzheimer's disease in 1993.
According to NIA scientist Stephen Snyder, PhD, "the discovery of an association between gene forms and Alzheimer's gives us an additional clue about the mechanisms that underlie Alzheimer's disease. Because the enzyme encoded by the BH gene may play a role in the deposition of amyloid, a substance commonly found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, it may also lead us toward other new avenues of investigation." Dr. Snyder cautions however that this finding needs to be confirmed in other populations before the association with Alzheimer's can be generally confirmed.
To speak with Dr. Snyder, or for help in putting this latest finding into perspective, please contact the NIA's information office at (301) 496-1752. For more information on Alzheimer's, visit the NIA's Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center's (ADEAR) website at http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers.
The NIA, one of 18 institutes at the National Institutes of Health, leads the Federal effort in studying Alzheimer's disease and supports basic, clinical, epidemiological and social research on aging and the special needs of older people.