Researchers Discover New Gene Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative, neurological disorder that currently has no cure. It impairs memory, thought, and behavior and affects approximately 5.8 million people in the United States alone. It can be a lonely and devastating disease for those afflicted and for their families. Recently, researchers announced the discovery of a gene that has been linked to the more common form of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The brand-new gene, called CASS4, was discovered using a triple strategy. First, the research team used a data-driven approach to compare nearly 5,000 genomes from control individuals and those who have AD. They next employed an “in silico network search” which involved analyzing publicly available gene expression data. Finally, they used a powerful technique called epigenetics to modify gene expression in select brain tissue samples taken from patients who had end-stage Alzheimer’s.
Using this pioneering tactic, the researchers were able to home in on a gene that hadn’t even been on the Alzheimer’s radar before. The identification of CASS4 as a gene involved in the development of Alzheimer’s sheds light on new pathways that are being explored by the scientific community to better understand the disease.
This new understanding of the gene’s involvement will help scientists determine ways to potentially diagnose the common form of the disease at earlier stages when treatments can more effective and drastic lifestyle changes can be implemented. The gene discovery also throws a spotlight on the importance of diagnosing and understanding Alzheimer’s among a small but growing subsection of the population – those who develop the disease in their 40s and 50s and have found themselves without a diagnosis or treatment options.
CASS4’s connection to Alzheimer’s disease also has implications for research in the field. The gene plays a role in releasing proteins, some of which can be therapeutic targets for the development of treatments that change progression of the disease or even, modify the course of the disease altogether.
CASS4 is only beginning to reveal the complex, multi-gene network involved in the development of the common form of Alzheimer’s, while also highlighting its recovery potential.
This new discovery is a positive step forward in better understanding AD and, consequently, progressing the scientific community towards a potential cure. The hope for those affected by this disease remains, despite the unceasing challenges imparted by the complexities of brain health and human behavior.
A variety of treatments are currently being looked into as possibilities for improving the lives of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
• Current medications focus on slowing the progression of the disease, or treating the symptoms to improve the quality of life. Some of these include Aricept, Razandyt, and Namenda.
• Alternative drug therapies such as stem cells and cannabidiol (CBD) are also being explored.
• Herbal treatments are being studied to see whether they can help restore lost alertness and reduce the progress of AD.
• Brain health supplements may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s by providing extra nutrients for the brain.
• Exercise routines may be beneficial for people whose cognitive impairment is at mild to moderate levels.
• Diet intervention has been found to be beneficial for some people with Alzheimer’s and is being investigated further.
The recent discovery of CASS4 is a breakthrough in the study of Alzheimer’s disease. It creates a new pathway for the scientific community to explore ways to diagnose and treat the disease optimally and more effectively. Following studies and further research, some creative solutions may finally offer hope to those suffering from this debilitating disease.