Scientists have developed a new genetic test for Alzheimer’s risk that can be used to predict the age at which a person will develop the disease.
A high score on the test, which is based on 31 genetic markers, can translate to being diagnosed many years earlier than those with a low-risk genetic profile, the study found. Those ranked in the top 10% in terms of risk were more than three times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s during the course of the study, and did so more than a decade before those who ranked in the lowest 10%.
It is already known that genetics plays a powerful role in Alzheimer’s. Around a quarter of patients have a strong family history of the disease, and scientists have shown this is partly explained by a gene called ApoE, which comes in three versions, and is known to have a powerful influence on the risk of getting the most common late-onset type of Alzheimer’s.
The latest study takes a new approach, showing that, aside from ApoE, there are thousands of background genetic variations that each have a tiny influence on Alzheimer’s risk, but whose cumulative influence is substantial.
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