Researchers have unprecedented chance to search for Alzheimer's susceptibility genes and develop advanced clinical testing
Phoenix-Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Kronos Science Laboratories, an affiliate of Phoenix-based Kronos Optimal Health Company, have initiated a study with unprecedented power to identify genes that are involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of disabling memory and thinking problems in older persons.
Using cutting edge technology, researchers at TGen will survey 570,000 letters of the genetic alphabet (commonly known as "SNPs") in the DNA of 1,000 deceased persons confirmed to have Alzheimer's disease at autopsy and 1,000 deceased persons confirmed to be free of Alzheimer's disease at autopsy.
Because of the number of SNPs surveyed-more than any surveyed ever before-researchers have an extraordinary opportunity to search for Alzheimer's susceptibility genes throughout the human genome.
"The technology to sift through the human blueprint at ultra-high resolution to get at the root of diseases such as Alzheimer's has finally come of age," explains Dietrich A. Stephan, the study's principal investigator and head of TGen's Neurogenomics Division. "TGen is one of only a few places in the world that has this type of technology. The collaboration between Kronos and TGen represents a partnership which promises to greatly improve our understanding of the genetic causes of Alzheimer's disease so we may diagnose it early and develop knowledge-based therapies."
Kronos Science Laboratories will have an exclusive worldwide license to all intellectual property that results from the research. Based upon the results of this study, Kronos will develop a test that aids in clinical diagnosis and can determine a person's genetic predisposition for developing Alzheimer's disease.
"An estimated 4.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease today, and that number is projected to more than triple by 2050," said Dr. Christopher Heward, President of Kronos Science Laboratories. "At Kronos, we are passionate about our healthy living and aging philosophy, and we're pleased to demonstrate this commitment by participating in this unparalleled study that has the potential to make a significant impact in the lives of affected individuals and families."
To date, researchers have identified several rare genes that cause a form of Alzheimer's disease resulting in memory and thinking problems before the age of 60. In addition, scientists have identified a common gene that accounts for about 30 percent of those who develop the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease after the age of 60. The search is now on to discover other genes that contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers will obtain DNA samples from brain banks in the USA and Europe.
"We could not be more excited about the possibility of discovering the remaining genes involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease," says the study's other principal investigator, Dr. Eric Reiman, Clinical Director of the Neurogenomics Division at TGen, Director of the Arizona Alzheimer's Disease Consortium, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona, and Scientific Director of the Positron Emission Tomography Center at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. "We hope that this information will improve our understanding of the disorder, provide targets against which to aim new treatments, and permit health care providers to identify those who might benefit from disease-slowing and prevention therapies at the earliest possible time."
The study is expected to cost approximately $6 million and will be jointly funded by TGen and Kronos. Researchers expect the study to be completed within 18 months.
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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