Researchers identify rare gene variation as Alzheimer’s risk factor

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Two international teams of researchers have identified a rare variation in the TREM2 gene as a moderate risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. TREM2 is a gene involved in inflammation and immune response, and this discovery of provides an important clue for researchers seeking a better understanding of the Alzheimer’s disease process. | File photo

ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

2. The disease usually begins after age 60, and risk goes up with age. The number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.

3. About 5 percent of men and women ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s disease, and nearly half of those age 85 and older may have the disease.

— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Valley West health news

Two international teams of researchers, with National Institutes of Health scientists and support, have separately identified a rare variation in the TREM2 gene as a moderate risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, a press release from the National Institute of Aging announced Nov. 15.

TREM2 is a gene involved in inflammation and immune response, and this discovery of provides an important clue for researchers seeking a better understanding of the Alzheimer’s disease process.

Researchers have hypothesized for many years that a rare genetic variant can confer moderate risk for disease. These are the first studies to identify such a variant related to Alzheimer’s disease.

The first group was led by John Hardy, Ph.D., of University College London (UCL) Institute of Neurology and at NIH by Andrew Singleton, Ph.D., of the NIA. The second team was led by deCODE Genetics, Reykjavik, Iceland, whose work was supported in part by NIH.

The approach taken to find this gene variant suggests that a similar research strategy should help identify additional variants of this type.

— National Institute on Aging