Monday, October 9, 2006
DISCOVERY OF NEW GENE ASSOCIATED WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE: Johns Hopkins Medicine Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEWS TIPS FROM JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICINE
2006 ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF HUMAN GENETICS, OCT. 9-13, NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
DISCOVERY OF NEW GENE ASSOCIATED WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
(Scheduled for presentation at 4:30 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, Oct. 10; poster presentation #2034, Hall D/E, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.)
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have identified what might be a second gene that signals risk for late-onset Alzheimer's disease. As many as 4.5 million Americans are believed to have AD, a disabling and fatal disorder marked by memory loss, trouble with language and difficulty performing familiar tasks.
Late-onset AD occurs after age 65. While three genes are known to cause an early-onset form, only one other gene has been shown to be a risk factor for the late-onset form.
Hunting for genes that are turned on or off in AD patients, the Johns Hopkins researchers identified a gene on chromosome 10 that they call ASAH2L, which, interestingly, appears to exist only in humans and appears less active in AD patients. The gene also appears less active in women and with advancing age, which are risk factors for developing AD. According to the researchers, ASAH2L seems to have arisen from an accidental duplication of another nearby gene.
Although the exact role of the ASAH2L gene in AD is not yet clear, the investigators think it might be involved in keeping brain cells from dying. Says Dimitrios Avramopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins, "Hopefully it will lead to developing more treatment options in the future."