30 Oct 2013, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: An international team of scientists led by researchers from Cardiff University have discovered 11 new genes linked with Alzheimer's disease. The research was conducted by gathering data from more than 74,000 people as part of a two-year project. The research collaboration between the scientists is known as the International Genomics Project (IGAP) and has been published in the journal Nature Genetics.
The academic group, headed by professor Julie Williams, said that the breakthrough will significantly increase knowledge of the disease and lead to a better understanding of its disordered functional processes while throwing open new research avenues.
The research in Cardiff was part-funded by the Welsh Government, the Medical Research Council and Alzheimer's Research UK.
Prof Williams said that, "I would describe it as a significant step forward, really helping us understand what is causing the common form of Alzheimer's disease. Understanding Alzheimer's disease is a worldwide challenge and you do need scientists to work together in some way on this. This is why it has proved somewhat successful."
She further added, "My group in Cardiff started 20 years ago on trying to understand the causes of Alzheimer's disease by focusing on genetics. It wasn't really until 2009 that we got our first, major findings that showed there were three genes that increased your risk. Since then, in the last four years, by working together and pooling our resources, we now have over 20 genes that we know affect the development of Alzheimer's disease. We are really focusing on identifying genes that cause Alzheimer's because they will pinpoint mechanisms and things that are really going on in the body at a fine-grained level. We now have a very strong indication our immune system is involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease directly because several of the genes implicate immune functions."