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Chinese researchers identify a new gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease

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Updated 29/12/2018 – 09:02


BEIJING, December 28th. (Xinhua). The Chinese research team identified a variant of a gene that plays an important role in the development of Alzheimer's disease in Han, the largest ethnic group in China.

This study was recently published in the National Science Review, an English-language magazine related to the Academy of Sciences of China (ACCh).

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive and irreversible change in the brain that slowly destroys memory, cognitive abilities, and even the ability to perform simple tasks. The disease affects about 48 million people worldwide, and this figure is expected to increase due to the aging population. The disease has no cure.

The onset and progression of the disease is due to genetic and environmental factors and is inherited in 79% of cases.

Previous studies have shown that genes are involved in the early appearance of the Alzheimer's family, which is diagnosed before the age of 65 and accounts for only five percent of cases. Scientists believe that there are other genes that have yet to be discovered.

Recent studies of genomic associations have identified several Alzheimer's genes in European populations, but most of them cannot be confirmed in Chinese populations.

Genetic sequencing of 107 Alzheimer's patients diagnosed before the age of 55 or with a family history has enabled researchers from the Kunming Institute of Zoology ACCh-dependent to find a rare variant identified as rs3792646 in the C7 gene. Subsequently, they confirmed the association of this variant with the disease in 368 cases from eastern and south-western China.

In addition, the experts used data from images of the brain, which showed that patients with this risk option had a significantly smaller right hippocampus, a very important part of the brain and worse memory in early adulthood than in healthy people. This finding suggests that the variant may affect the structure and functioning of the brain several decades before the disease manifests itself.

Subsequent studies have shown that overexpression of a variant may interfere with cell viability, immune activation and neuronal activity.

The researchers concluded that the option seems to be specifically for China, after analyzing the data of genomic sequencing in 812 European patients.

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