Researchers may have discovered a key element to why some people get Alzheimer’s disease and why others of a similar age, stay free. They found that those who did not get the disease had key genes that the others did not. These genes appear to reduce the growth of proteins, called Tyrosine phosphatases that encourage the build-up of another sticky protein called tau. Tau is thought to be responsible for ‘clogging up’ the cells and reducing brain function, eventually leading to brain cell death.
The study was headed by Professor David Curtis, University College London Genetics Institute, who looked at the DNA of 10,000 people aged 60 or over, with over half who already had Alzheimer’s disease.
‘These results are quite encouraging…It looks as though when naturally-occuring genetic variants reduce the activity of tyrosine phosphatases then this makes Alzheimer’s disease less likely to develop, suggesting that drugs which have the same effect might also be protective.’
Around 850,000 people in the UK are affected by Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. This figure is expected to increase to over one million by 2025. There is no cure at present.
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