Genes and dementia
Lots of factors affect a person’s risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, the number one cause of dementia. It’s a complex mix of lifestyle, health and age, but our genetic makeup plays a particularly important role in determining whether we will get Alzheimer’s.
It turns out that risk genes are a really important piece of the puzzle that helps us build our understanding of how a disease progresses.
Alzheimer’s Research UK recently awarded a £96,000 grant to Prof Kevin Morgan at the University of Nottingham to maintain and expand his large collection of DNA samples. This is to ensure he can continue his important research into the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease.
At the Sanger Institute, where my PhD is based, we are fascinated by all things genetics, which may seem a long way from a person living with Alzheimer’s disease. Yet we know that certain gene mutations (a small error in a gene) can increase your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease and now we are working to understand how and why that is.
When people hear the word Alzheimer’s, many envision an elderly person shut away in the depths of a care home. As a 25-year-old, I was all too aware that young people assume that it’s a natural part of ageing, and nothing for them to worry about yet. But it’s not, it’s a brain disease that strips everything away from the individual – and it doesn’t just affect the elderly.
This week we’re helping Rita Pepper speak out about how Alzheimer’s has affected her family.
We know that around 99% of cases of Alzheimer’s are not directly inherited – they’re caused by a complex mix of age, genetic risk factors and lifestyle.
Dementia is the most feared diagnosis in the over 55s in the UK, affecting around 850,000 people across the country. You often ask us why some people develop the condition and others don’t, and whether it’s possible to predict who will go on to get dementia.
In this blog, we’ll explore how common these genetic forms are and what role our genes play in non-genetic forms of Alzheimer’s.
As Dementia Awareness Week approaches, BBC Horizon has thrown a spotlight onto dementia research with their latest programme featuring recent advances in the field.