Alabama scientists at Hudson Alpha help identify genetic change that is causing Alzheimer’s disease

Alabama scientists have helped identify a genetic change that is causing Alzheimer’s disease, the institute said today. The new findings could lead to drugs to treat Alzheimer’s before symptoms begin, HudsonAlpha said.

The advance came in the ongoing study of an extended family in Columbia with a history of inherited Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers studied 93 family members and found 26 had “a never-before-identified mutation on PSEN1, a heavily studied gene known to cause Alzheimer’s,” HudsonAlpha said.

Discovering new mutations adds to what scientists know about the gene. Current drug trials try to lessen Alzheimer’s symptoms through early treatment. Scientists hope to give families like the one in Colombia the chance to join treatment studies and therapy years before symptoms begin.

Scientists say PSEN1 is involved in the production of the amyloid beta protein. When the gene is mutated, the protein isn’t trimmed to the best size, ends up longer and “stickier,” and more easily forms “plaques in the brain.” Stopping that plaque formation is a leading goal of current Alzheimer’s treatment.

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