Research into Alzheimer's disease reveals the existence of five more genes that could be involved in an increased risk of developing the disease, reports an international team of scientists.
This new discovery means the number of responsible genes identified so far has reached ten, and the study published in Nature Genetics claims that if these ten could be successfully targeted at and eliminated, the risk of developing the disease could be cut down by 60 per cent.
Alzheimer's is said to be 80% genetic. More than 17 years ago the first gene linked to the disease, APOE, was discovered but it was only in 2009 the other genes were identified.
These new genes discovered have been revealed to affect three bodily processes - the way it deals with fat and cholesterol; the mechanism by which brain cells process big molecules (endocytosis); and the immune system.
Professor Julie Williams, at the Cardiff University, who led the international study, said: "What I find exciting is that we have found specific gene processes, we now have precise targets to identify treatments." And yet, researchers also warn that treatment strategies may take as long as fifteen years to be developed.
Alzheimer's is a devastating disorder and because of an ageing population, the Alzheimer's Society has made a gloomy forecast of one million people with dementia by 2021.
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of Alzheimer's Research UK that has supported the study, said: "These findings are a step towards defeating dementia. We are yet to find ways of halting this devastating condition, but this work is likely to spark off new ideas, collaborations and more research."