Studying the Outliers: Researchers led by Ken Kosik discover a gene variant that provides a delaying mechanism for Alzheimer’s disease
Medical research has yet to discover an Alzheimer’s treatment that effectively slows the disease’s progression, but neuroscientists at UC Santa Barbara may have uncovered a mechanism by which onset can be delayed by as much as 10 years. That mechanism is a gene variant — an allele — found in a part of the genome that controls inflammation. The variant appears to prevent levels of the protein eotaxin from increasing with age, which it usually does hand in hand with inflammation. The findings appear in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
“We wanted to study those who got the disease later to see if they had a protective modifier gene,” said senior-author Kenneth S. Kosik, co-director of UCSB’s Neuroscience Research Institute and a professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. “We know they have the mutation. Why are they getting it so much later when the mutation so powerfully determines the early age at onset in most of the family members? We hypothesized the existence of gene variant actually pushes the disease onset as much as 10 years later.”