With a large percentage of the population reaching a more advanced age, research on the topic of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing in its urgency. Alzheimer’s, which causes short term memory loss, language problems, disorientation, and other symptoms, currently cannot c cured and ultimately results in death. In the past few decades, medical experts have identified a number of genes that are markers for developing the disease. That means, if that gene is present in your body, you are at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Despite these findings, no genes have been identified that seem to protect against the disease, until very recently. Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah have uncovered a variant of a gene called RAB10 that seems to contribute to protecting individuals who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It was found that many older people who carry the RAB10 variant do not end up developing the disease. Researchers are hopeful that further researching this gene variant could lead to more effective Alzheimer’s protection in the future.
The research examined genetic data from the Utah Population Database, which holds 20 million genetic records. They looked at the genes of families who were prone to Alzheimer’s but did not end up developing the disease. From there, they looked for the common factor in the DNA of those they examined, and found that the RAB10 gene variant seemed to effectively identify those who were resilient against the disease. The variant is under expressed in those who do not develop the disease, and over expressed in those who end up developing the disease.
As of right now, there are no treatments that stop the eventual decline experienced by those who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While there are some treatments that prolong life expectancy and help to preserve some functions for longer, Alzheimer’s is always fatal, usually within five to ten years after an initial diagnosis. The new research shows, however, that when the level of the RAB10 gene is reduced in the body, it can lead to a reduced appearance of Alzheimer’s. If this gene can be targeted and reduced with medical intervention, it may be the first effective treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Worldwide, millions of people are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, most of them over the age of 65. Because of the level of care that people with Alzheimer’s require, it’s extremely costly to provide treatment and care to those living with the disease. In recent years, finding an effective treatment has become a priority as more and more people are reaching elderly ages. While it seems like leading an overall healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and a diet low in processed foods can help to protect against Alzheimer’s, there are some genetic factors in a person’s DNA that simply cannot be changed without medical intervention. This means that you can lead an extremely healthy lifestyle and still develop the disease.
As more research on human DNA is completed, the role that our genes play in our health becomes more apparent. While it can be helpful to find genetic variants that are markers for developing diseases like Alzheimer’s, it may be even more helpful to identify the protective variants, like the RAB10 variant mentioned above. This may lead to ideas on how to develop a way to ultimately protect against the disease. While more research into this gene variant still needs to be completed, scientists and doctors are hopeful that it can lead to a cure. Alzheimer’s is a particularly tragic disease for the patients and their families, and any chance for an effective treatment needs to be pursued.
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