Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers launch study of environmental causes of Alzheimer’s disease

15.06.2005


A Marshfield Clinic scientist is searching for genetic and environmental causes of Alzheimer’s disease as a first step toward developing diagnostic markers to identify people at risk before they develop the disease.



Nader Ghebranious, Ph.D., director of the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Marshfield Laboratories, is using the anonymous database of DNA collected for the Personalized Medicine Research Project (PMRP) conducted by Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (MCRF) to find Alzheimer’s disease study participants. This study is being funded by Marshfield Clinic.

About 10 percent of people age 65 or older and half of those 85 or older in the United States have late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The degenerative brain disorder impairs memory and judgment as well as the ability to perform once easy tasks. Sometimes, a person with Alzheimer’s disease has mood swings and becomes depressed and irritable. It may be difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s disease to enjoy activities and people that once were pleasurable.


PMRP collected DNA from more than 18,000 people who live in central and northern Wisconsin and who receive all or most of their health care from Marshfield Clinic. Using the electronic medical record developed by Marshfield Clinic and in use for more than a decade, researchers will be able to link anonymous health histories with genetic information to understand the role specific genes play in disease. Building on this research, in the future a physician will be able to diagnose and prescribe medication or treatment based on genetic information and even counsel a patient to make lifestyle changes to prevent disease altogether.

This project requires 150 people with Alzheimer’s disease and about 300 people of similar age who do not have the disease. “Association studies like this require us to match people who have the illness with those who do not,” Ghebranious said.

Using the PMRP database of DNA, Ghebranious will identify people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The PMRP is expanding its recruitment to nursing homes; more people with Alzheimer’s disease will qualify for the study. The vast majority of people in nursing homes have late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, he said.

Because the disease is extremely complex, researchers believe that more than one genetic anomaly and perhaps environmental factor leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Ghebranious is studying four specific genes and their connection to the disease process.

“It is important to consider more than one factor because one gene variant by itself may not confer a detectable risk of getting the disease,” he said. “It is when multiple gene variants act together synergistically that probability for disease increases.”

A person with even the most probable genetic link, APOE4, a gene variant of a protein called APOE (Â-po-ç) that functions in the transport of cholesterol and phospholipids, is estimated to have five times higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

A second gene, called Cytochrome P46, which modifies cholesterol, may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease and the way the body removes cholesterol from the brain.

The other two genes, Oxidized LDL receptor 1 and Angiotensin 1-converting enzyme, are tied to the way the brain cells bind to APOE and reduce buildup of harmful proteins, known as plaques, in the brain, respectively.

Environmental factors likely contribute to Alzheimer’s disease as well. Two specific potentially protecting factors - cigarette smoking and use of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins - will be considered in this study.

“There are controversial findings in previous studies on smoking,” Ghebranious said. “Some earlier research has suggested nicotine decreases the brain plaque associated with Alzheimer’s disease, results of a new mouse study point to the opposite conclusion. More studies are needed.”

Other studies have indicated that people who use statins have less risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those who do not, but no studies have proven it conclusively. Other environmental factors (e.g., infections, metals, industrial or other toxins) may trigger oxidation, inflammation and the disease process, particularly in people with genetic susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease.

It is known that a “heart healthy” diet and exercise also lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, probably by lowering cholesterol.

Ghebranious’ study is unique because other researchers do not have access to complete medical histories as researchers at Marshfield Clinic do, Ghebranious said. Having the history of medications people have taken, their illnesses and health status are important to linking genetics, environment and resulting disease.

In addition, the Wisconsin population that has participated in the PMRP is for the most part ethnically homogeneous. Having this kind of population in the study reduces the “noise” due to genetic variations among races.

“It is as if we can turn down the static and concentrate on the issues at hand,” he said.

The study is expected to take two years to complete.

Chris Schellpfeffer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.marshfieldclinic.org/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'

23.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

'Quartz' crystals at the Earth's core power its magnetic field

23.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>