Researchers discover possible way to predict Alzheimer's

Jul 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two new studies, involving a newly identified gene, show that Alzheimer's disease could be diagnosed as much as 20 years before symptoms develop.

The studies by Dr. Mark Sager, professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and director of the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Institute, and Sterling Johnson, UW School of Medicine and Public Health associate professor of medicine and researcher at the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center at the Madison VA Hospital, were presented today at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Honolulu.

Sager's study included 726 healthy, middle-aged people with a family history of Alzheimer's disease. All carried both the newly identified gene (TOMM40) and APOE, a well-established risk gene for Alzheimer's. Researchers discovered that the 229 people with the high-risk version of TOMM40 did significantly worse on tests of learning and memory than study participants with the low-risk version.

"The deficits shown by the high-risk group are similar to the kinds of changes in memory and learning that are seen in very early Alzheimer's," says Sager, also a practicing geriatrician. "In this study population, TOMM40 genotyping allowed us to find evidence of very early Alzheimer's disease at least 20 years before any outward symptoms would be noticed."

Johnson found that healthy, middle-aged adults who have the high-risk version of TOMM40 had a significantly lower volume of in two affected in early Alzheimer's disease. Johnson says the finding in the brain's posterior cingulate could represent a "neuro signature" for Alzheimer's disease.

"This is the first study to associate TOMM40 to brain imaging in people at risk for Alzheimer's," says Johnson. "The research suggests that the group with the high-risk version of TOMM40 may be having early signs of cognitive and related to Alzheimer's."

In research published last year, Duke University Medical Center researchers identified the gene and found that it not only can predict risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, but also the approximate age when an individual will develop the disease.

"If validated through additional research, the combination of a genetic test and an MRI could provide an otherwise healthy middle-aged person with an assessment of their likely risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," says Allen Roses, M.D., director of the Deane Drug Discovery Institute at Duke. "These findings, paired with new data about the frequencies of the TOMM40 gene in different ethnic groups, provide the basis for conducting a prevention trial that can be done in a fraction of the time and requiring fewer participants than previous efforts."

Study participants came from the Wisconsin Registry for the Alzheimer's Prevention, the largest pool of middle-aged, asymptomatic adults with a family history of Alzheimer's disease.

Explore further: Molecular method classifies patients with polycythemia vera

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists discover new Alzheimer's gene

Aug 07, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A UC Irvine study has found that a gene called TOMM40 appears twice as often in people with Alzheimer's disease than in those without it. Alzheimer's, for which there is no cure, is the leading ...

Researchers find parental dementia may lead

Feb 19, 2009

People who have parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia perform less well on formal memory testing when compared to people of the same age whose parents never developed Alzheimer's disease or other dementia. ...

Having a parent with dementia may affect memory in midlife

Feb 18, 2009

People who have parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia may be more likely to have memory loss themselves in middle age, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of ...

Gene tests and brain imaging reveal early dementia

Mar 06, 2007

Dementia diseases develop insidiously and are generally discovered when the memory has already started to deteriorate. New research form Karolinska Institutet shows, however, that approaching Alzheimer's can be detected several ...

Recommended for you

Guidelines presented for diagnosing focal liver lesions

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Focal liver lesions (FLLs) are mostly benign, and can be diagnosed based on knowledge of their presentation, associated clinical and laboratory features, and natural history, according to clinical ...

Factors tied to neck, back pain improvement identified

13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Observational registry-based research can inform patients and physicians about prognosis for subacute or chronic neck or low back pain, according to a study published in the Aug. 1 issue of ...

User comments : 0