July 17 (UPI) -- A study by a team of researchers at Cardiff University has identified two new genes that can influence the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
"In addition to identifying two genes that affect the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, our new research reveals a number of other genes and proteins that form a network likely to be important in its development," Dr. Rebecca Sims of Cardiff University School of Medicine, said in a press release on Monday. "These particular genes, which suggest that immune cells in the brain play a causal role in the disease, are also very good targets for potential drug treatment."
The study, published July 17 in Nature Genetics, compared the DNA of tens of thousands of individuals with Alzheimer's disease with age-matched controls.
"Over 60 percent of people with dementia have Alzheimer's disease, yet despite its prevalence we still don't fully understand the complex causes of the disease," said Dr. Doug Brown, director of Research and Development at the Alzheimer's Society.
"The discovery of two new risk genes for Alzheimer's is an exciting advance that could help to deepen our understanding of what happens in the brains of people with the disease. These genes reinforce a critical role for special cells in the brain -- called microglia -- that are responsible for clearing up debris including damaged cells and proteins. Insights like this are vital to help unravel the complexities of Alzheimer's disease and show researchers where to focus their efforts in the search for new, effective treatments."
In Britain, there are currently 850,000 people living with Alzheimer's disease.