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Test can determine when people will get Alzheimer's
In Germany alone, around 1.2 million people suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Scientists have now developed a new genetic test for the risk of Alzheimer's. This makes it possible to predict the age at which a person will develop the disease.
Researchers at the University of California have now developed a genetic test that can predict the age at which sufferers will develop Alzheimer's disease. The doctors published the results of their study in the medical journal "PLOS Medizine".
Newly developed test analyzes 31 different genetic markers
The new test is based on the analysis of 31 genetic markers. If people have high scores on these genetic markers in the test, it can be used to diagnose when those affected will develop Alzheimer's. When patients were ranked in the top ten percent of participants in terms of risk, they were three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's over the course of the study, the researchers report. Such participants also developed Alzheimer's about ten years earlier than the subjects with a ranking under the lowest ten percent, the experts add.
The time of development of Alzheimer's can be predicted
The currently developed test could actually be used in the future to determine a person's later risk of Alzheimer's. In addition, it can also be determined at what point in time the disease will develop, explains the author Rahul Desikan from the University of California. If you do not already have dementia, the test can determine your risk at what age you will develop dementia. The results of the tests are based on your age and genetic information, the expert adds.
To develop the test, genetic data from over 70,000 people were evaluated
The so-called polygenic hazard score test was developed using the genetic data of more than 70,000 people. These included patients with Alzheimer's disease and also healthy elderly subjects, the scientists explain.
Genetics play a major role in the development of Alzheimer's
It is already known that genetics play a very large role in Alzheimer's disease, the experts say. Around a quarter of the patients have a strong family history of the disease. This can partly be explained by a gene called ApoE. As is well known, the said gene has a high impact on whether people develop Alzheimer's at an advanced age, the doctors explain.
The gene occurs in three different variants. A version of ApoE appears to reduce the risk by up to 40 percent. In people with two copies (one from each parent) of the so-called high-risk version of ApoE, the risk of developing Alzheimer's is 12 times higher, the experts say.
The test has already been tested in an independent patient cohort
For the first time, the researchers identified almost 2,000 differences in the genetic code (known as SNP). The scientists finally evaluated these differences according to their influence and thus developed a test that is based on 31 markers. This test was then used to determine the individual's risk of the disease in an independent patient cohort. In people with the high-risk version of ApoE, Alzheimer's was predicted to be 84 years old, compared to 95 years in subjects with the lowest ten percent of Alzheimer's risk test results, the doctors add.
Prevention is the key to Alzheimer's disease
Preventing the development of dementia symptoms is a fundamental goal of Alzheimer's research, say the experts. In order to be successful, we need a precise method of predicting which people are most likely to develop the disease, the scientists explain. The approach in this study has been fairly successful in predicting the likelihood of someone developing dementia over the next year.
Regular physical and mental activity protects against Alzheimer's
Genetics is only part of the story and we know that so-called lifestyle factors also influence the risk of developing Alzheimer's, the authors explain. Regular mental and physical activity helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. We can all change our daily habits to lower our risk of Alzheimer's. To put it simply, everything that is good for our heart is also good for our brain, the experts explain. (as)