Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) may have reached a step closer to developing promising new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, for they have found a link between the memory-robbing disorder and brain protein KIBRA.
Making an announcement in this regard, the researchers said that their finding builds on a previous study that showed a genetic link between KIBRA and memory in healthy adults.
The latest study, according to the researchers, revealed that people who carried a memory-enhancing flavour of the KIBRA gene had a 25 per cent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
"This research suggests that KIBRA, and possibly some of the proteins with which it interacts, may play a role in Alzheimer's disease,'' said Dr. Matthew Huentelman, an investigator in TGen's Neurogenomics Division, and senior author of the study.
He revealed that the critical difference found in the protein was that individuals with the T-allele gene were less likely to develop Alzheimer's than those with the C-allele.
Alleles are the genetic markers - A, C, G or T - that determine such inherited traits as eye and hair colour, or susceptibility to disease.
"We are now beginning to dig deeper regarding the genetic sequence of KIBRA in individuals carrying, and not carrying, the T-allele. We believe this variation causes a potential lifelong difference in the total levels of KIBRA in the brain, and that this may influence one's risk for Alzheimer's," said Huentelman, who led a team that worked with several Arizona institutions, as well as other national and international universities and research institutions.
Dr. Eric Reiman, clinical director of TGen's Neurogenomics Division and executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute, said: "This study suggests a link between the inherited genes involved in normal human memory and the predisposition to Alzheimer's disease. It provides promising new targets at which to aim new treatments to stave off Alzheimer's and improve memory."
The study has been published in the online edition of Neurobiology of Aging.