Genetic Study Tightens the Link Between Alzheimer's and Cholesterol

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Scientists announced today that they had uncovered five more genes related to Alzheimer's Disease. In a study involving 300 scientists and 54,000 subjects, the new genetic variations were discovered by comparing the genetic makeup of people with and without the disease. The new findings raise hopes of discovering and treating the disease earlier.

The discovery signals that cholesterol and inflammation are part of the disease process. Previously this had been suspected, but there was no proof. “The level of evidence is very, very strong,” Dr. Michael Boehnk, a professor at the University of Michigan, told The New York Times.

The new variations also doubles the number of those associated with Alzheimer's disease from five to ten. While the genes are linked to Alzheimer's, there's no evidence that they do anything more than slightly increase the risk of having the disease. Regardless of this, the new finding will help in understanding and developing new treatments. Genetics account for 60%-80% of the chance of developing of late-onset Alzheimer's, the rest being behavioral and environmental factors.

The study will be published tomorrow in the journal Natural Genetics

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