Published on: July 16, 2014
by Kalina Laframboise for The Gazette:
A Montreal team of researchers has found a genetic variant that protects against and delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study revealed that certain natural and frequent genetic variants could postpone Alzheimer’s disease by up to four years. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia that causes memory loss and deterioration of thinking skills before eventually leading to death.
The team from the Douglas Mental Health Institute and McGill University is led by Dr. Jules Poirier, who is a pioneer in the field of Alzheimer’s research.
“We found that specific genetic variants in a gene called HMG CoA reductase, which normally regulates cholesterol production and mobilization in the brain, can interfere with, and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by nearly four years,” Poirier said in a statement. “This is an exciting breakthrough in a field where successes have been scarce these past few years.”
For Diane Roch, the director general of the Quebec Federation of Alzheimer societies, the news is a step forward for research and finding a cure to the devastating disease. The organization provides support to individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.
“We need to continue supporting research because every little step is progress,” Roch said. “What Dr. Poirier is coming up with shows that research is obviously advancing and there is hope.”
Research often focuses on identifying what genetic and environmental factors cause the disease. However, this discovery could be the next step in creating pharmaceuticals to prevent, delay the onset, or treat individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Roch believes that while Poirier’s research is a breakthrough, people must take preventive measures against the disease.
“For the moment it is not going to stop the disease,” Roch said. “We’re beginning to see a little bit of light but leading a healthy lifestyle can help in controlling and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.”
On behalf of McGill University and the Douglas, Poirier introduced the team’s findings at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen.
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