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Celera Identifies Genes Associated with Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

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Celera, an Applera Corporation business, has announced the publication of data from its research studies identifying several candidate genetic markers associated with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD), including markers in multiple genes that have never been associated with LOAD.

Two of these genes are PCK1, a gene that regulates blood glucose levels, and GALP, a gene that is modulated by insulin and regulates food intake, suggesting a link between Alzheimer’s disease and irregular glucose/insulin levels. This research paper has been accepted for publication in Human Molecular Genetics.

This is the first report of a genome-wide association study in LOAD focused on testing genetic variants that are likely to change the function of a gene or protein. There were 19 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that showed significant association with LOAD in an analysis of five independent case control sample sets, totaling 1,808 cases and 2,062 controls.

Three of the identified markers were located close to the APOE gene, a known risk factor for LOAD. An additional 16 markers mapped to biological candidate genes, such as PCK1 and GALP, to chromosome segments that are considered to harbor genetic mutations that lead to a higher risk for LOAD, or to novel genes.

“This research study identifies genes that are likely risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, allowing us to narrow our biological focus as we strive toward an even better understanding of how these genes contribute to the development of this disease,” said Julie Williams, Ph.D., Professor of Neuropsychological Genetics at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, and a lead author on the paper.

“Identifying susceptibility genes for Alzheimer's disease provides a knowledge base for the development of potential new diagnostic tests and novel therapies. These findings need to be looked at in other research samples to explore the consistency and the strength of these findings,” Williams added.

“This research holds promise for the development of diagnostic tests as well as new targets for drug discovery,” said Thomas White, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Celera.

“As with our Genetic Risk Scores in other complex diseases such as risk of cirrhosis in hepatitis C virus infected individuals, and coronary heart disease and stroke that are currently in development, we now plan to combine these markers with others, and develop a predictive test that determines who might be at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” said White.