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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

University of Miami Researchers ID Alzheimer's Risk Gene

University of Miami researchers have identified a gene that appears to double a person's risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease.

They called the finding a small step toward understanding and fighting the debilitating disease, which affects five million Americans. "I hope that in the next five to 10 years we can see major improvements -- a combination of therapies and prevention through exercise, both physical and mental, diet and other things," said Margaret Pericak-Vance. She is director of the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the UM Medical School and principal investigator in the study.

From past studies, researchers knew that people with high levels of the amino acid homocysteine in their blood are more likely to develop Alzheimer's, Pericak-Vance said. The new information gives scientists a cause-and-effect, because the gene just discovered is known to influence the body's levels of homocysteine, she said. [Source: Miami Herald]

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