Gene that wards off Alzheimer's disease found

Last Updated 15 January 2010, 16:51 IST

Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have discovered the so-called ‘longevity gene’ — CETP gene — which they believe not just adds to one’s life but also help stave off age-related cognitive decline.

According to them, one in five persons has this gene that comes in pairs - and those who have two copies of the centenarian’ version are benefited, both from the added longevity and the Alzheimer’s protection, “The Daily Mail” reported.

Its discovery could pave way for new drug treatments to combat the devastating illness, said  Amy Sanders, the lead researcher of the study.

“We found that people with two copies of the longevity variant had slower memory decline and lower risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. More specifically those who carried two copies of the favourable variant had a 70 per cent reduction in their risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

For their study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers tracked the health of more than 500 elderly men and women for four-and-a-half years.

All were free of dementia at the start of the study but 40 had developed it by the end of it. From the blood samples, the researchers found that the CETP gene, already known to treble the odds of living to 100, also cuts the odds of dementia by 70 per cent.

Researcher Richard Lipton said: “Most work on the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease has focused on factors that increase the danger.

“We reversed this approach and instead focused on a genetic factor that protects against age-related illness, including both memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease.”
The ‘centenarian’ version raises levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, cutting the risk of heart disease and, it appears, dementia. A pill that acts in same way could help people live longer, healthier lives, the researchers said.

(Published 15 January 2010, 16:51 IST)

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