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article imageEpigenetic patterns found with people who have Alzheimer’s

By Tim Sandle     Aug 22, 2014 in Science
People with the neurodegenerative disease Alzheimer's are more likely to have certain epigenetic patterns than those without, according to a new study.
Researchers have, for several years, been searching for epigenomic variations in people with and without Alzheimer’s disease. Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression caused by certain base pairs in DNA, or RNA, being "turned off" or "turned on" again, through chemical reactions.
With the new research, scientists have identified several genes at which methylation states correlate with having had the neurodegenerative disease. Methylation denotes a type of chemical reaction; with DNA this process describes the switching of base pairs and thus a change to the genetic code.
The research has discovered a potential new mechanism involved in Alzheimer’s, and this will be an area explored by scientists in new studies. At present it is uncertain id it is something about individuals’ lifestyles, or something else, that could trigger a change that brings about the disease.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. It is titled "Alzheimer's disease: early alterations in brain DNA methylation at ANK1, BIN1, RHBDF2 and other loci".
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that worsens over time, leading to a slow decline in cognitive functions and affecting memory, thinking, and behavior. More than 5 million Americans are living with the condition, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
In related research, scientists have found some biomarkers in the blood that can accurately predict whether a patient will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Another study suggests that failing a sniff test or screening positive on an eye exam may predict people’s chances of developing the neurodegenerative disorder.
More about Alzheimers, Epigenetics, Neurodegenrative disease
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