A major new international study involving UK DRI researchers has identified 75 genes associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, including 42 new genes which had not previously been implicated in the condition. The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics today (4 April).
The highly collaborative, international project was carried out in research centres in eight partner countries including the UK, US, Australia and across Europe. It was spearheaded by Prof Jean-Charles Lambert, Research Director of Inserm, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. In the UK, the collaboration was co-led by researchers Dr Rebecca Sims and Prof Julie Williams from the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff, and funded by the Medical Research Council.
As well as confirming previous findings implicating the proteins amyloid-beta and tau, that build up in and around nerve cells as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the study provides compelling evidence to support a role for inflammation and the immune system in the disease.
Dr Rebecca Sims, Senior Research Fellow at Cardiff University and UK Dementia Research Institute Co-investigator and co-leader of the study, said: “This study more than doubles the number of identified genes influencing risk for the more common form of Alzheimer’s disease. It provides exciting new targets for therapeutic intervention and advances our ability to develop algorithms to predict who will develop Alzheimer’s in later life. We have been honoured to work with an exciting, multinational team of scientists and already, we have received further funding from the Medical Research Council to leverage the results of this study in animal and cellular models of disease.”