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Multiple genetic markers can estimate risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

A new study finds

A risk score calculated by combining over 30 gene markers can estimate the likelihood of a person developing Alzheimer’s disease at a given age, according to research published yesterday (Tuesday 21 March 2017) in PLOS Medicine.

The polygenic hazard score (PHS) was developed by Rahul Desikan, of the University of California, San Francisco, USA, and colleagues, using genotype data from three large cohorts (totalling over 70,000 individuals) of patients with Alzheimer Disease (AD) and normal elderly individuals. 

Commenting on the research, Dr James Pickett, Head of Research, Alzheimer’s Society, said:

Preventing the development of dementia symptoms is the holy grail of Alzheimer’s research but to succeed we first need accurate methods to predict who is most likely to develop the condition. This study’s approach was fairly successful at predicting the likelihood of someone developing dementia over the coming year, but needs to be tested further in mixed, non US populations.

This genetic risk score could help identify people to take part in research studies, but is not opening a door to genetic testing for dementia risk in the clinic. For anyone concerned about dementia the first step is to visit your GP. If you’re looking for ways to reduce your risk, remember what’s good for your heart is good for your head, and it may be possible to lower your risk by staying active, eating well, and learning new skills.