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New Alzheimer’s-Associated Genes

A GWAS meta-analysis identifies 11 new loci associated with onset of the neurodegenerative disease.

By | October 28, 2013

Amyloid plaque formations in the brain of a deceased Alzheimer’s patientWIKIMEDIA, JENSFLORIANA meta-analysis of four previously published genome-wide association studies (GWAS) consisting of 17,008 Alzheimer's disease (AD) cases and 37,154 controls has yielded 11 new AD-associated genes. An international team led by investigators at France’s INSERM reported in Nature Genetics this week (October 27) on 11 previously unrecognized susceptibility loci for late-onset AD, which hint at a role for the immune system in the development of the neurodegenerative disease.

According to BBC News, “Alzheimer’s Research UK said the findings could ‘significantly enhance’ understanding of the disease.”

Study coauthor Julie Williams from Cardiff University in the U.K. told the BBC that in analyzing such a large data set, “we've doubled the number of genes discovered and a very strong pattern is emerging. . . . There is something in the immune response which is causing Alzheimer's disease and we need to look at that.”

The National Institute on Aging’s Marilyn Miller lauded the study’s size in an interview with The Washington Post. “Alzheimer’s is obviously a complex disease,” she told the Post, “and because it is so complex, it is only because of this broad-based collaborative effort that we’ve been able to begin to find potential solutions to tackle the disease.”

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