New test could predict Alzheimer’s

The onset of Alzheimer’s disease could be discovered at an earlier age if hopes to develop a genetic test go ahead

Scientists believe they have found a handful of genes that could indicate whether you will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in later life.

The recent study published in the Journal Nature Genetics found that the number of genes associated with the condition has risen and suggests that detection of these genes could indicate the onset of the disease in a third of all diagnosed cases.

‘At some point, I believe we’re going to be able to predict this disease in middle age, because that’s when we can intervene to lower a person’s risk,’ says Professor of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, Mike Owen.

Ground breaking research published last night linked five additional genes to Alzheimer’s disease, but scientists claim 60 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases could be wiped out if the genes linked to the disease are identified early on and corrected.

Of course there are ethical dilemmas posed by such research. ‘If and when we do develop such tests, society’s willingness to take them up and use them will depend largely on how useful they are in terms of treating the disease,’ says Professor Mike Owen.

The disease, which usually sets in after the age of 65, is marked by dementia and memory loss.It affects about 500,000 people in Britain, with the number of sufferers expected to rise to one million by 2021.

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