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Finding clues to Alzheimer’s in DNA
July 2nd, 2012
05:13 PM ET

Finding clues to Alzheimer’s in DNA

In what's being described as the largest, most complete genetic mapping project for a single disease, scientists Monday announced a plan to obtain the genetic make-up of more than 800 individuals enrolled in an Alzheimer’s research study.

The research will determine all 6 billion letters in each individual’s DNA. The new data – vast and shared worldwide with eligible researchers – may explain how genes cause changes in the body that lead people to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s probably dozens or scores of genes that are contributing to whether you get it and how severe it is in you,” said Dr. Robert Green, a physician-scientist at Harvard Medical School who is tasked with coordinating the genetic sequencing. “The genome is a complicated place. It’s not just about identifying a gene that puts you at risk. It’s about identifying other genes that modify those genes. It’s about identifying genes that protect you.”

The $2 million genetic sequencing project is being conducted by the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and the Brin Wojcicki Foundation.

The sequencing will be completed in three months.

It will take much longer to know whether the study participant’s decoded genomes yield any breakthrough strategies to treat the more than 5 million Americans who have Alzheimer’s disease.

“I would expect it to point us to new areas we might want to investigate for therapies,” said William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer’s Association. “I expect that it may point us to new areas that will allow us to predict who’s at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease and who could be treated early before they have any signs of dementia.”


soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. darlene

    its about time. Thank you in advance for all the hard work going into this study. I watched my grandmother linger for many years with this awful disease and it scares my to think i too might get this. So thank you.

    July 3, 2012 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. caseykurlander

    Hi everyone. I lived with my grandma, who has dementia and Alzheimer's for over a year. All I can say is that I have many, many stories about the ups and downs. You can check them out here:

    http://caseykurlander.wordpress.com/category/grandma/

    Thanks!
    Casey

    July 3, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. rachel brockmeyer

    I have my cna and working with alzheimer patients, its a very sad thing to watch someone slowly leave life and reality. I just hope in the future a cure can be made.

    July 3, 2012 at 18:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Deborah Alfano

    What will the government do with our DNA once we are all on the government controlled health care program? It would be just like the government to say it is best if we are all tested so they can prepare to care for us? Do we really trust the government to take care of us? Really, is our DNA ours or does the government now have or will it have the power to force us to have DNA testing? Or will it just do the testing and not tell us? I will pay the fine before I will join any government controlled health care program.

    July 3, 2012 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      At least I can vote govt officials in and out. In contrast, I have no vote when it comes to the blood-sucking mega-corps that have no accountability.

      July 3, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
    • I call BS

      What the eff are you two smoking? No one is talking about forcing you to undergo any tests on your DNA. Really, dears, stop listening to those voices in your heads or on the radio.

      July 3, 2012 at 23:09 | Report abuse |
  5. Rosa Michelle

    I didn't know much about this disease, but I have recently opened my eyes, and started discovering about it..

    July 4, 2012 at 04:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Kelly Schaefer

    I hope researchers can discover a test that can be given to detect Alzheimer's in unborn babies, then treat it agressively.

    Caregiver Resources

    July 13, 2012 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Necole Pinales

    In my medical intuitive practice, I have often been consulted by family and friends of those whose parents or loved ones have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The origin of this disease is unknown, however much attention is being placed upon the growth of Amyloid plaques in the brain.Amyloid plaques are waxy and translucent protein-polysaccharide complexes that are deposited in organs or tissues during certain diseases. These deposits cause the degeneration of the organ or tissue involved. Amyloid plaques are associated with a number of conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Hodgkin’s disease and Osteomyelitis.-

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    February 10, 2013 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Julio Condi

    Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. It's the most common cause of dementia — a group of brain disorders that results in the loss of intellectual and social skills. These changes are severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life. ..*-`

    Please do check into our online site
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    June 7, 2013 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.