The evolution of Alzheimer’s

  • April 13, 2012
The evolution of Alzheimer’s

New research sheds light on the genetic evolution of Alzheimer's Disease.

Researchers have discovered the existence of a shared pathway through which multiple genes and their byproducts affect people’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

The research could be an important focus for future gene discovery and the development of targeted therapies to fight against Alzheimer’s. It has been published in the latest edition of The American Journal of Human Genetics.

The study, led by Gates Cambridge alumnus Towfique Raj [2005] from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, explored large-scale human genome data to better understand the functions and interactions of specific locations of genes on a chromosome associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The researchers found significant evidence of recent natural selection acting on several collections of DNA gene sequences. The findings suggest that several genes associated with susceptibility to developing Alzheimer’s Disease have evolved together, and that the proteins encoded by these genes physically interact.The researchers say these genes may be components of a shared molecular mechanism that affects AD susceptibility.

Towfique, who completed a PhD in Genetics with the help of a Gates Cambridge scholarship, says: “The AD susceptibility genes may have been under selection pressure together because of some non-AD-related event in that particular population’s history – perhaps a pathogen or metabolic or environmental challenge.

“We offer robust statistical evidence that these genes under natural selection are physically interacting, and we link in new genes that were not suspected to be part of the molecular pathway. These offer targets for further genetic work to see if they do contribute to susceptibility to Alzheimer’s.”

Picture credit: worradmu and www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

Latest News

Towards better public service delivery in Pakistan

Rafi Kakar [2024] is keen to contribute to better public service delivery and development outcomes in Pakistan by employing a research approach that blends theory with the realities of public policymaking. He believes that the devolution of social sectors to the provinces in 2010 has created both challenges and opportunities for governance reforms and improvements […]

Using virtual reality in the service of stroke recovery

Brielle Stark [2012] is pioneering new ways of approaching the language problems faced by stroke patients. She was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award to conduct research in Australia, starting in Spring 2025. She will be moving to Australia to work with her long-time colleague Dr Lucy Bryant at the University of Technology Sydney on […]

The ethical implications of AI

Three Gates Cambridge Scholars address the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence and the need for ethics to keep up with the pace of change in AI in the fourth episode of the Gates Cambridge podcast, So, now what? out today [30th May]. The episode, featuring Andreas Vlachos, Kerry McInerney and Richard Diehl Martinez was hosted […]

Rethinking feminist approaches to gender-based violence

Ilaria Michelis [2019] was completely surprised when, earlier this year, she was awarded this year’s Journal of Gender Studies Janet Blackman Prize. The Prize celebrates scholarship on international feminist movements and trade unions/women in work.  It was awarded for an article she published the year before in the Journal of Gender Studies based on an issue […]