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New gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease

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November 23rd, 2010

Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have identified a gene that appears to increase a person s risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer s disease (the most common type). The study found that individuals with a particular variation in the gene may be almost twice as likely to develop the disease. The World Health Organization estimates that 18 million people worldwide have Alzheimer s disease, and this figure is projected to nearly double to 34 million by 2025. Researchers say that identifying risk genes may help them better understand how the disease develops and also lead to better treatments.

Family and friends vs. traditional tests

Doctors usually evaluate someone who is having memory problems by administering tests that involve recalling words or comparing shapes. But researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a different approach. The two-minute Ascertain Dementia 8 (AD8) questionnaire relies on a family member or friend to evaluate whether or not someone is having difficulties performing everyday tasks. In testing, the questionnaire highlighted people who were at risk for Alzheimer s disease more consistently than traditional tests. The AD8 has been translated into several different languages and is now in use in clinics around the world.

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